Germany’s smartest cities
Where parking spaces announce they are free and city maps show what’s going on. Welcome to the urban laboratory.
Germany. Streets inform you about traffic jams, rubbish bins transmit signals when they are full, and shops send bargain ads to passers-by in their vicinity. Science fiction? No, this is the brave new world in Reutlingen. In the Baden-Württemberg city of 114,000 inhabitants, these services are currently being tested as part of a research project. To this end, the city centre has been fitted out with a sensor infra-structure. “Linking these data makes possible innovative services that enhance the quality of life in our city”, says Reutilingen’s mayor Barbara Bosch. In this way traffic flows can be better directed and rubbish bins emptied when needed. And citizens benefit from the tailor-made services – provided they have downloaded the necessary app.
The cities of Reutlingen and Chemnitz (in Saxony) are taking part in the research project “Smart Urban Services” of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. It is scientifically accompanied by the Fraunhofer Institute of Labour Economics and Organization (IAO) in Stuttgart and the Institute for Human Factors and Technology Management (IAT) at the University of Stuttgart.
In Chemnitz the project has a different focus. Bluetooth sensors at traffic lights and street lights register movements: an interactive city map, soon to be available on the internet, links this information with data about events and shows what’s going on in Chemnitz. In addition, users can evaluate mobility comfort with an app or make suggestions for the location of car sharing stations, bike stands and seating arrangements.
Both projects attach great importance to data protection. The collected data is anonymized in several stages, preventing any conclusions from being drawn about individual persons.