Issue 44, November 2013
bulletSmart Cities
bulletInnovation: FixMyCity - Direct, Fast, and Easy Contact to Public Authorities in Smart Cities
bulletInterview: Designing the City of the Future - Mr. Alanus von Radecki
bulletECF | Efficient City Farming
bulletLOCK8 Smart Bike Lock
bulletEvent Review: FOCUS: Smart Grid
Smart Cities

Global cities are undergoing unprecedented historical growth. For the first time ever, over half of the world's population lives in metropolitan areas, with the number of residents increasing by nearly 60 million each year. By 2050, seven out of every ten people will live in cities. To accommodate this rapid urban expansion, the city of the future must meet enormous challenges posed by globalization, climate change, and demographic shifts.

A "smart city" transforms its urban environment by improving its economic and environmental health through the incorporation and optimization of technology solutions in its infrastructure. The defining characteristics of a smart city, however, remain up for debate. Smart-cities.eu, for example, lists economy, mobility, governance, environment, living, and people, as six essential features constituting an intelligent city. Regardless of various definitions, what unites all smart city concepts is their integration of ICT and emerging technologies into sustainable urban planning.

Smart city innovations can be large-scale, such as managing a city's demand for energy and establishing a green transportation system, or small-scale, such as developing a useful smartphone app to enable city residents access to municipal services and to encourage more efficient use of home appliances. These developments can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase civic engagement, provide better access to services, and enhance quality of life.

While 21st century mass urbanization poses many pressing challenges, it also offers great potential for cities and nations to establish their competitiveness in present-day society. Cities have historically been recognized as engines of modernization - centers of economic growth and technological innovation. In Germany, entrepreneurs, economists, politicians, and ICT-specialists are working closely together to design sustainable cities of the future. Sample projects include T-City Friedrichshafen, Model City Mannheim, and SmartCity Cologne. As a high-tech country and export nation, Germany is well-positioned to establish itself as a leading provider of innovative smart city solutions in the future.  

 

 

article2Innovation: FixMyCity - Direct, Fast, and Easy Contact to Public Authorities in Smart Cities 
 
Source: Natalie Nik-Nafs, Fraunhofer FOKUS 

 

Potholes, graffiti, and broken street lamps are just a few problems that cities and towns face. The time that passes before public authorities become aware of such damages and fix them can often seem endless to many residents. This is where FixMyCity, the web-based citizen reporting platform by Fraunhofer FOKUS, can help.

FixMyCity provides a way for citizens to quickly report issues to the responsible municipal authorities, independent of time and place. Through the technology's combination of platform features, which includes the support of mobile devices and social media integration, two-way channels between citizens and city officials are created. Damage reports can be tagged with geographic coordinates and entered via a smartphone or tablet. Citizens can also check to see if anyone else has already reported an issue. In addition to fostering active citizenship, this web-based platform enables public authorities to better assess damages on a broader level, resulting in quicker and more economical repairs.

This innovation offers visual illustrations of publicly available data, facilitates interactions via standard web technologies, and provides access through any modern browser. These features help increase the product's accessibility to citizens, as well as reduce development time and costs for city administrators.

For more information, please visit the product website: www.fixmycity.de.

 

Image: Fraunhofer FOKUS

  

  
article3Interview: Designing the City of the Future - Mr. Alanus von Radecki 

 

Mr. Alanus von Radecki, project manager at Fraunhofer IAO, oversees the coordination and management of the Stuttgart-based innovation network "Morgenstadt - City Insights." His Fraunhofer research institute is one of several, which form a global alliance with businesses and cities to push sustainable urban development through systems innovation.

Mr. von Radecki studied at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg in Breisgau, where he received his Masters of Science in Environmental Governance and his Masters in Sociology in 2011 and 2006 respectively. Before his role as project manager at Fraunhofer IAO, he worked as a researcher at the Institute. From 2007 to 2010, Mr. von Radecki was a knowledge development manager at Lexware, a computer software company.

In his interview with GCRI, Mr. von Radecki describes the main characteristics of a "Smart City" and the primary research sectors of the "Morgenstadt - City Insights" initiative. He also discusses the areas in which smart cities will have the greatest impact, how Germany compares to other countries with respect to urban development, and what his vision for the city of the future looks like. To read the full interview, click here.  

 

 


 

Source: Christian Echternacht, ECF


Efficient City Farming is a Berlin-based company that offers commercial urban farm systems for local fish and vegetable production. The system is extremely economical, offers a reduced carbon footprint, and minimizes food transport distances. From vacant lots to the rooftops of pre-existing buildings, these smart farms can be easily integrated into an urban landscape. Direct sales help keep products fresh and revenue remains with the Cityfarm operator. 


These farm systems operate on the highly resource-efficient and patented aquaponic system called ASTAF-PRO, which was developed by the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries. Aquaponics combines aquaculture and hydroponics in a closed loop. Within the system, wastewater from the fish is re-used as fresh water for the vegetables. This wastewater contains valuable organic fertilizer that is then used for growing the plants. The end result is high-quality production, in addition to a drastic reduction in H20 consumption and a production process that is almost CO2 neutral. ASTAF-PRO offers ideal production conditions for fish and plants at the same time, a challenge that traditional aquaponics cannot typically manage.

ECF was selected by the Climate-KIC Acceleration Programme as one of the two best German climate start-ups of 2013. Climate-KIC is a prestigious program established by the European Institute for Innovation and Technology, the E.U. equivalent of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Most recently, Efficient City Farming was selected to represent Germany at the Cleantech Open Global Finals in Silicon Valley. The company also launched its Investors Road Show on November 24th in New York City. ECF is offering an investment opportunity of $ 2.2 million. To learn more, please email: invest@ecf-center.com.  

 

 
Source: David Spencer, LOCK8 


LOCK8 features "keyless electronic locking" through a mobile app used as an e-Key to provide safe and easy bicycle protection. This e-Key also allows owners to easily share bicycles with their friends and family by using the LOCK8 App to securely send individual key codes. 


The smartphone-integrated lock creates new possibilities in peer-to-peer bicycle sharing. Users can lend a bike to friends by texting them an e-Key with the bike's location so that they can locate, unlock, and use it.

From a commercial standpoint, LOCK8's bicycle sharing platform can now easily connect individuals with bike programs in cities without expensive rental schemes. Any bike shop, hotel, hostel, or private individual can rent out a bike through the app or via Facebook. Like an Airbnb for bicycles, LOCK8 enables bicycle owners to click the "rent" button on the app, lend a bike to an individual for a fee, and earn income.

TechCrunch readers' 2013 Best Angel Investor of the Year, Christophe F. Maire, cited bicycle theft as a rampant issue in major cities, a problem that LOCK8's sensors and GPS tracking seeks to combat. "It's startling to realize the insurance damage bicycle theft causes and yet there is so much room for innovation," he said, before further noting the advantages of LOCK8's adaptable business model. "When you look at bike sharing options in cities, there is no scalable solution. LOCK8 has huge market reach for millions of individuals, commercial entities, and cities."

Berlin-based LOCK8 was recently the winner of the TechCrunch Disrupt Europe 2013 Start-Up Battlefield competition.  

 

 
article6Event Review: FOCUS: Smart Grid

On November 21, a panel of top energy experts from the U.S. and Germany convened at the GCRI to discuss Smart Grid technology. 

 

With the global population expected to reach seven billion by 2025, the need for sustainable, efficient, and reliable energy infrastructure solutions is increasingly important. The speakers addressed the economic and societal drivers of Smart Grid technology, which include the utilization of renewable energy generation, incentives for energy efficiency, flexibility for peak load management, and resiliency.

 

The role of microgrids, self-contained systems of energy generation and distribution that combine multiple energy sources and can operate autonomously or in conjunction with the grid, was a particular focus of the evening discussion. 

 

Matthew Fairy from Emergent Energy Solutions, Dr. Christian Höpfner from the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, Brian Jones from SAP, and James Gallagher from the New York State Smart Grid Consortium spoke about the grid of the future and the infrastructure challenges that lie ahead. Dr. Kurt Becker from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University served as moderator. The German Center for Research and Innovation hosted the event in cooperation with the German American Chambers of Commerce and the Polytechnic Institute of New York University.

 

A photo gallery, video, and podcast of the event will be posted soon online.

 

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