Germany: Evolving with Foresight


As a champion of sustainable urban development, Germany has long recognised the importance of cities as road maps to the future. It is actively positioning itself as a leading provider of smart city solutions for the world. In addition, its energy transition (Energiewende) is further spearheading the global shift towards smart cities. In 2012, the German government adopted the CO2-neutral, energy-efficient and liveable city of the future as the central theme of its High-Tech Strategy 2020 Action Plan. This plan identified ten future projects as the focus of research and innovation. It comes as no surprise that the German smart city definition has a strong focus on clean energy: it is a city that uses modern technologies to combat climate change and pollution as well as enhance the quality of life in a sustainable way.

Germany is playing it right by involving all stakeholders in the process of coming up with smart city solutions, from the central government to local authorities, private businesses to research institutes. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s commitment towards a sustainable future on a domestic and international level has paved the way for many public-private partnerships. In addition, the country’s rich research landscape and empowered citizens provide further impetus towards the goal of innovative smart city solutions and better living.


European Smart Cities

Thomas Matussek, Managing Director, Alfred Herrhausen SocietySmart urbanisation is no accident. The urban future requires planning, foresight and co-ordination. To put it simply, it requires governance… It’s vital that we deepen our understanding of urbanisation and share crucial knowledge about how urbanisation can bring prosperity and wellbeing… If smart urbanisation is our goal, technology is a crucial enabler. We already understand why urbanisation has driven prosperity. Scale economies play a role… In addition, sharing of knowledge is much easier. Centres of innovation, expertise and creativity develop much faster where people come together. That’s been true for centuries—from the Silk Road cities to Silicon Valley. Now, in the digital age, we have a unique opportunity to take a quantum leap forward by using technology to improve the lives of citizens in the future.
Thomas Matussek, managing director, Alfred Herrhausen Society

Recognising that the only way to respond to the challenges of urbanisation is to acknowledge that a city is made up of a complex system of interconnected networks that include smart power grids, integrated mobility, green buildings, etc, Germany has initiated forward-looking initiatives and pilot projects:




The residents of Friedrichshafen—a city in south Germany—were part of one of the most comprehensive smart city projects in the country. This public-private partnership project, started in 2007, was planned and executed with Deutsche Telekom. Its aim was to test smart city services, such as e-governance apps, e-ticketing, networked homes, from conception to deployment. The result: more than 40 projects developed with the community were implemented. The T-City project demonstrated how modern information and communication technology can enhance quality of life.


Less talking, more doing is the credo followed by the team behind Morgenstadt. An initiative of the Fraunhofer Society—the world’s largest organisation for applied research— Morgenstadt is one of the ten projects selected to be part of the High-Tech Strategy 2020 Action Plan. It is a vision of a sustainable, liveable and innovative city. The Morgenstadt Network, consisting of 21 industrial partners, ten international cities and 11 Fraunhofer Institutes, aims to conceive, initiate and implement pilot projects for sustainable urban solutions in German and European smart cities.