Living in cities geared towards a sustainable future has become a common demand for many people. The concept of “smart city” is becoming more and more popular, but how do you make these smart cities? Starting from digitized data processing, whose volume doubles every two years on a planetary scale, with “big geo-data” that holds great potential and “open“, freely accessible to users.
But the city does not only need smart technologies, far-sighted policy choices are a must: only through an efficient infrastructure for territorial information, municipalities will be able to face the challenges of tomorrow’s city.
In this area, Germany seems to be a step ahead, with advanced examples of municipal data management, in a digital, geolocated and open format.
The areas of action are many. In Bielefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia, real estate has been geo-localized in hundreds of online maps. A tool that allows you to find constructions in progress in certain neighborhoods, and any “cracks” and slits on the buildings. Access to the maps is simple and straightforward, with a query based on location name and cadastral data. A great starting point for those who have to sell or buy a house, or schedule jobs.
In Stuttgart a civil engineering department was established to coordinate local e-government procedures. There are about 4,000 excavations per year on public roads in the city: an application has been created to better manage their impact on the territory. This way, during planning or implementation, project data can be exchanged with external vendors, resulting in greater coordination between everyone involved and significant cost savings, with positive effects on individuals and the general public as well.
In Bonn, the Geo-information system allows for a digital organization of services during the winter. Mostly around security improving works of the public transportation network on dedicated routes. An interactive map lets you access information on road and special services that may be affected by cold weather or national holidays, with interesting opportunities for optimizing local organization systems.
In Munich, there’s a database can handle a very profitable business like gourmet tourism. It contains more than 1,000 entries (hotels, restaurants, pubs, and bars) and is accessible to everyone through an app, with continuous data updates on concessions, property, and commercial licenses. And if on one side, users can rate places and locations, on the other, authorities have easier control over any illicit activity.
Another innovative application looks at the roofs of Berlin: : it is called Solar Atlas and allows the detection of solar energy levels that each building produces, even potentially. This allows the detection of stable and suitable roofs for solar panel installations and, potential worthy structures to invest in. If the roof is red on the 3D map, it means it has photovoltaic potential, if it is gray it does not.
Data sharing benefits everyone
Even if Germany is the first model in smart public services management, access to these precious data is not yet widely available.
As concieved by the INSPIRE EU
Directive, geo-referenced environmental information should be homogenous and shared throughout the country and throughout all the European Union. Tomorrow’s smart city goal is ambitious: communicating with each other within an interconnected and open European system that ensures the privacy of managed data.
Stakes are high, and Germany is already a step ahead.
By Marina Bonifacio and Valentina Grieco