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Ralf Nejedl

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Cities are the driving force for innovation and progress in the digital age

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An article by Ralf Nejedl, Senior VP, B2B Europe, Deutsche Telekom.

Ralf Nejedl

Ralf Nejedl, Senior VP, B2B Europe, Deutsche Telekom.

There is no doubt about it: The Internet of Things is a significant growth area because it enables the digitization of our everyday lives, touching many aspects of society. It is slowly but steadily breathing intelligence into everyday objects and it is playing an increasing part in every industry, changing production processes as well as our daily habits. Digitization today is a powerful factor when it comes to our economic and societal development.

Nowhere else is this more apparent than in the places where we live together - in our cities. Throughout history, cities have always been the centers of innovation and progress. That is why changes in the way we live, work and communicate today, evolve most rapidly there. While cities cover only two percent of the Earth’s surface, more than half of the world’s population lives there, consuming three quarters of the energy resources, and producing eighty percent of global CO2 emissions. And the trend to urbanization will continue, which makes rapid innovation not only necessary but imperative.

As the conversations we have had with numerous mayors at the recent Smart City World Congress have shown: Cities face enormous challenges today, from using resources such as water, energy and transport infrastructure more efficiently, to maintaining security in public and digital space, to improving administrative and citizen information processes. Ensuring high quality medical care in the face of financial constraints and an aging society, as well as improving access to education are further important tasks. Finally, cities must offer their residents a sustainable, ecologically attractive habitat with better air quality and reduced CO2 emissions.

Digitization enables new things

In our modern society, we can harness the possibilities of digital progress to make cities more intelligent, i.e. make them more efficient, livable and sustainable. Electricity, gas and water grids, public and private transport systems, businesses, hospitals, homes - all these infrastructures form the backbone of a city's efficiency, quality of life and sustainability. The gradual optimization and integration of these critical systems are the cornerstones of modern Smart City strategies.

The Internet of Things, or IoT, will play a pivotal role here. Cities are the epicenter of the IoT development, where people, things, data and processes will be the first to be fully interconnected. A digital city, or smart city, uses digitization in various areas of city life – from smart parking and lighting solutions, to smart waste management, to increased safety and better air quality – and links these with each other.

We are already working with many cities across Europe to implement such solutions. A few examples are the smart parking solution Park & Joy which is being introduced in Hamburg, Bonn, and other cities across Germany, as well as similar smart parking solutions now available in Budapest, Dubrovnik, Bucharest, and Skopje, where we also offer smart biking and smart bus management systems. In Bucharest, as well as on the Croatian island of Krk we offer smart waste management based on Narrowband IoT. And in Dubrovnik, as well as the Greek cities of Halkida and Patras we are piloting smart lighting solutions that also integrate other capabilities such as public safety, air quality monitoring and free Wifi for citizens.  

The Internet of Things therefore supports smart cities and communities with their digital development, enabling them to innovate their infrastructure, to stimulate investment and creativity, to embrace new working models and to promote cooperation, therefore becoming more attractive and competitive. Social participation and coexistence will be improved while processes can be organized more efficiently realizing cost savings along the way.

All in all, digitization enables a city to considerably improve life for its citizens and make sure it is ready to continue doing just that in the future as well. An important long-term goal for any city in today’s increasingly globally connected world.

By the end of this decade, around 50 billion things will be connected to the Internet, many if not most of those within smart city boundaries. In this emerging Internet of Everything people, things - especially sensors - and processes are increasingly interlinked. These digital links can be used to generate action and decision-making knowledge in cities and regions in a novel way. For example by building complex mobility models to enable crowd management at major events, explore visitation patterns of regional tourists, or support local police or ambulance services. We are just at the beginning of this adventure. It will be interesting to see where the road will lead.

Futuristische Skyline

Smart City

Deutsche Telekom enhances urban life and supports cities with digital transformation – all across Europe.

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