Drivers impose nearly a thousand euros in costs every year by just hunting for parking spaces in German city centers.
Park and Joy is a good example of how new technologies are enabling smart solutions for cities. Deutsche Telekom uses sensors for smart parking that transmit the collected information using the NarrowBand IoT (NBIoT) radio standard. The sensors are especially advantageous for broad use: They are durable and consume extremely little energy. One battery, for example, can last up to eight years, which keeps the maintenance effort for the city of Hamburg manageable. Deutsche Telekom wants to work with authorities from other cities like Dortmund, Duisburg, Darmstadt, and Bonn to install during this year the same extensive network of sensors being tested for the first time in Hamburg.
On the occasion of the UN Climate Change Conference in November 2017, the go-ahead for smart city projects was also given in Bonn. It starts with the intelligent networking of street lamps, dumpsters, and the measurement of air quality. “This is an important step in the Digital Bonn Initiative,” says Ashok Sridharan, Mayor of the city. “In doing so, we are strengthening Bonn as a city committed to innovation and environmental protection.” To start, Deutsche Telekom is networking the first street lamps and recycling containers in Bonn’s city center. Intelligent sensors and NBIoT radio technology will be used like in Hamburg. The street lamps are dimmable, darken using motion detectors, and automatically turn on and off. In addition, public utilities proactively receive a message when a bulb is damaged or needs to be replaced. The networked street lamps will save up to 60 percent of operating costs. The sensors in the recycling containers measure the level so that municipal waste management only needs to empty the containers once they are full. And overflowing containers can now also direct waste management to make extra trips. On the other hand, waste management companies save trips to containers that are still half empty.
“The ‘Park and Joy’ app reduces search traffic and the burden on our roads.”
In the Czech Republic, T-Mobile is a strategic partner in a project that collects and analyzes data from mobile networks through traffic monitoring. This allows the ability to draw conclusions about traffic flows. In the Czech Republic, the project has analyzed visits to 40 tourist hotspots; the police, fire departments, and rescue teams are using the resulting information to improve their crisis planning for major events.
The city of Bucharest is using a smart city solution specifically for the visitor management of Tineretului Park. The city wishes to offer visitors better services before and during their visit to the park. To this end, it relies on smart parking, free internet hotspots, more security, and intelligent lighting. These standalone solutions are managed using a smart city platform. All data converges here, where it is aggregated and displayed on a Deutsche Telekom dashboard. This overview of the processes in and around the park facilitates and improves the operation of the park in the capital of Romania.
In Croatia, Deutsche Telekom subsidiary Hrvatski Telekom has initiated the largest pilot project in history to create a charging network for electric vehicles. It consists of 101 charging stations in 70 cities. The solution combines the necessary infrastructure with software that allows drivers of electric vehicles to find and reserve charging stations and pay for them after charging. The cloud-based platform delivers the information in real time.
The solutions in the Czech Republic, Romania, and Croatia show – albeit still on a small scale – that the smart city will only reach its full potential once the individual solutions converge in a single cloud platform where they can be managed centrally. However, according to Ralf Nejedl, Senior Vice President of B2B, previous experiences with cross-border smart city projects show that “in some locations, insufficient coordination between the departments of a city administration, as well as difficulties in cooperation between the public and private sector persist. These aspects are, however, essential to the successful implementation of a smart city project.” In addition, there is usually a lack of proper smart city strategy and a coherent plan to digitize the services.
To increase the number of leading smart cities by international comparison, German cities especially need to have closer cooperation and find a holistic approach, recommends Harald A. Summa, Managing Director of eco, the Association of the Internet Industry. To accomplish this, the cities would have to find a coherent strategy that integrates many different smart city services.
“This is best achieved with a cross-segment smart city platform that links all of the services,” says Summa. This is confirmed by market researchers from IDC. In a recent paper on the future of smart cities, they forecast that as many as 30 percent of major global cities this year will develop a smart city IoT platform strategy to connect devices for collecting and managing data from various city domains and technology providers.
However, manufacturer-specific protocols and data formats would need to be avoided when setting up such platforms, warns Ingo Hofacker, IoT expert at T-Systems: “An IP-based, open, scalable, and expandable horizontal smart city management platform would allow government agencies, citizens, and suppliers to connect and integrate objects and applications across the city.” To accomplish this, Deutsche Telekom is relying on a multi-IoT service platform. Using a web-based application of this kind, municipalities monitor and control urban infrastructure from any device. It also lets residents track how much electricity the new street lighting saves, how the air quality has improved in the city center, or where there is free parking space by allowing anyone to access the processed data online.