Population growth May 25, 2021

Smart cities in Bavaria – urban planning with a view to the future

In the context of digitalisation, it is not only processes in the everyday lives of individuals and companies that are changing – entire cities are adapting to innovations and increasing connectivity. The concept of the smart home has already been successfully established. Now Bavarian companies, initiatives and networks are working hand in hand with the Free State of Bavaria to develop solutions for the smart cities and regions of the future.

What distinguishes smart cities

The ever-growing drive for digital connectivity is expanding on an ever-larger scale. For example, digitisation is increasingly having an effect on urban planning with development concepts that focus on the following aspects in particular:

  • Increased efficiency
  • Effective use of modern technologies
  • More environmental friendly
  • Social inclusion
  • Improved mobility

There is a strong focus on improving the quality of life in cities. Urban mobility concepts enable traffic-free city centres with better air quality thanks to comprehensive smart air quality monitoring, while street lighting is intelligently controlled at night thanks to smart street lighting. Topics such as sustainability, recycling and waste management are also taken into account. Smart cities are distinguished by a combination of different concepts and technologies. The collection and evaluation of data plays a primary role.

First “Smart Cities – Smart Regions” model project in Bavaria

Smart cities have many benefits and the digital component of modern urbanisation shines ever brighter. This transformation is not a passive process, but must be actively carried out by planning associations, which is why the Bavarian State Ministry of Housing, Building and Transport has launched the ”Smart Cities – Smart Regions” project. Selected municipalities in Bavaria are working out an individual strategy for digitisation with spatial reference to the region under scientific supervision and financial support from the Ministry of Building. These integrated digital development concepts (IDEK) aim to effectively exploit the potential of digitisation, particularly in the context of themes such as:

  • Urban development
  • Urban renewal
  • Mobility
  • Infrastructure
  • Energy
  • Participation

Emphasis is placed on the areas of wider urban development and urban mobility. The project focuses on objectives such as better networking within the administration. Because thanks to an expanded network for information and data, municipalities can make administrative processes more efficient in order to save time and money. The digital integration of citizens also increases a municipality’s attractiveness and quality of life through the noticeable digital integration of individuals into the city’s activities.

A total of 36 applications were received by the State Government. Twelve participants in the model project are now benefiting from this:

  • Six inter-municipal partnerships: Deggendorf, Füssen, Hofheim, Ismaning, Marktleuthen and Spiegelau
  • Six individual municipalities: Neu-Ulm, Neunburg vorm Wald, Rosenheim, Munich, Nuremberg and Regensburg

The city of Füssen, which is popular with tourists, is already working on the development of digital traffic control, such as the digitisation of traffic lights and digital parking guidance systems. Recording products and services enables offers to be presented digitally and demand to be managed effectively. The region’s citizens benefit from the increased digital expertise of educational institutions such as day-care centres, schools and libraries. The concept of an 'Open Library' already exists here, which is accessible to residents 20 hours a day.

Smart Fichtelgebirge – sustainability thanks to digital solutions

As part of the “Smart Cities made in Germany” nationwide funding programme, the Fichtelgebirge in the Upper Palatinate has already been able to develop concrete concepts for a “Smart Fichtelgebirge”. The first phase is a strategy phase, which developed initial pilot projects for the period from 2019 to 2021. In the following implementation phase, these projects are to be implemented in concrete terms by 2027. The aim is to develop the district sustainably and to serve as a model for other regions. Following a district development concept with an integrated digital strategy, the focus is on the following action areas:

  • Economy
  • Mobility
  • Infrastructure
  • Tourism & culture
  • Health
  • Image building
  • Volunteering
  • Nature & agriculture
  • Education
  • Energy & climate protection
  • Administration
  • Social affairs

A special feature here is the participation of citizens, the district and stakeholders who, among other things, have worked out the core challenges in the Fichtelgebirge region on a joint participation platform. These were discussed in a subsequent expert workshop and numerous approaches to solutions have already been formulated. Measures were tested and evaluated in the above-mentioned main topics, so that 40 selected ideas were visualised as a paper prototype. The concepts will actually be implemented during the next few years of the second project phase.

Urban Air Mobility initiative in the Ingolstadt region

Mobility is considered one of the key smart city elements. The Urban Air Mobility (UAM) initiative was launched in the Ingolstadt region to be able to research the urban mobility of the future and test it under real conditions. The aim of the project, which is funded by the European Commission, is to evaluate the use of a wide variety of aerial vehicles in urban areas and neighbouring regions. Topics such as safety, noise, effectiveness and economic efficiency are researched under real conditions with the help of practical studies and in cooperation with the population as well as local players from business, science and politics. In addition to the city of Ingolstadt and other districts, more than 50 project partners are participating in the initiative, including:

  • Airbus 
  • Audi
  • The bavAIRia cluster
  • Bayern Innovativ
  • The brik digital start-up centre
  • Lilium
  • Munich Airport
  • Quantum Systems
  • Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt
  • Various state and federal ministries

Networks and initiatives are advancing smart cities in Bavaria

It is not only urban planning that is interested in innovative solutions for modern cities. Likewise, more and more networks are campaigning for the visionary modernisation of Bavarian municipalities.

As a collaboration between <link>UnternehmerTUM<link>, the centre for innovation, founders and start-ups at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), and the City of Munich, the Munich Urban Colab serves to develop innovative concepts. Start-ups, business, science and the citizens of Munich work together across sectors and disciplines to develop innovative solutions – among other things, for smart cities.

The “Smart Regions Bavaria” themed platform from Bayern Innovativ acts as a project atlas of model regions that already exist. The focus is on cooperation with urban and regional development experts, business promotion agencies, local/regional players in companies, citizens’ representatives and politicians. The aim is to develop successful concepts for cities, municipalities, districts or entire regions. The platform is also a communication medium for participants in the previously mentioned Smart Regions network in Bavaria.

Cooperation at international level is also bearing fruit with regard to the mobility of the future in Bavaria. The Innovation Centre Denmark in Munich links Danish and Bavarian innovative start-ups with established players in science and industry in order to reduce emissions under the banner of Green Mobility.

The Clean Tech Innovation Park in Bamberg is dedicated to sustainability as a centre of innovative technologies. The French tire manufacturer Michelin’s former industrial plant is to be used in future for research into new urban mobility innovations, among other things.

Start-ups as an important component in developing smart cities

In addition to networks, start-ups and innovative companies are increasingly participating in the development towards smart cities in Bavaria. A strong focus on urban mobility is noticeable among regional stakeholders, but other areas are also covered:

Sono Motors from Munich is working on smart electric cars and buses powered by solar cells. Self-charging vehicles are therefore more environmentally friendly and not dependent on filling stations.

Lilium is a promising concept in constant development that could substantially change the urban mobility of the future. The start-up has already convinced several investors with its electric jet, which is designed to transport passengers with seven seats at the price of a taxi. As a vertical take-off aircraft, it avoids traffic jams and problems finding a parking space.

Emqopter from Würzburg is similarly building on airspace, but not focusing on people but the transport of goods. Smart drones will make deliveries of up to two kilograms within cities. The fully autonomous service would therefore relieve inner-city delivery traffic.

The [ui!] group of companies is globally active and has a branch office in Munich. With its clear focus on the active digital transformation of cities, fixed items on its agenda are software development, city infrastructures and sustainable urban mobility concepts. The group supports cities, municipalities and districts on their way to becoming a smart city / smart region. For example, [ui] is involved in the development of an integrated mobility concept for the Bavarian region of Allgäu. The project is funded by the Free State of Bavaria.

IAA in Munich as a cross-sector platform for urban mobility

The efforts being made towards a sustainable transformation of cities and regions are visible throughout Bavaria It is becoming increasingly clear that technological innovations are not passing cities by – on the contrary, many of Bavaria’s municipalities are already actively committed to becoming smart cities. For example, the world’s largest motor show, the IAA, has developed from a pure motor show into a cross-sector platform for urban mobility. At the decentralised trade fair in Munich, innovative transport concepts are to contribute to the future of smart cities in Bavaria on a large scale.

Similar aspirations are reflected in urban planning in the USA. This year’s Maifest 2021, hosted by the Bavarian representative office in San Francisco, will focus on renewable energy and sustainable living. Young companies as well as experts from science and industry from Bavaria and the USA are cordially invited to the digital conference on 27 May 2021 to exchange ideas about promising concepts.

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