Research and Life

Smart Ideas to be Imitated

Cutting-edge concepts for intelligent urban districts don’t recognise state borders.
[Photo: Triangulum]

How can the metropolises of tomorrow be made smart and worth living in? Since 2015, the collaborators in the EU’s “Triangulum” project have been searching for ways not only to make cities more intelligent, but also to transfer the emerging knowledge to other cities and communities throughout Europe. Some important steps have already been accomplished.

There are many German translations of the English “smart”, including terms that mean “intelligent” or “clever”, yet none seems entirely to hit the nail on the head because the term long ago acquired connotations in colloquial German that go far beyond such a narrow interpretation as “intelligent”. Today, the word “smart” implies clever solutions, integrated systems but also sustainability and inventiveness. It's no wonder then that the subject of “Smart Cities” is an important field of modern research, as most contemporary cities still have a long way ahead of them to become smart.

"Lighthouse City" Eindhoven (the Netherlands): a pioneering concept for smart cities.

Pioneering concepts for intelligent urban districts are currently being devised in the “Triangulum” project, which is funded by the EU. And, not just in theory, but rather with the clear objective of implementing the fully developed, practicable and transferable solution in practice, initially in the three so-called “Lighthouse Cities”, Manchester in England, Eindhoven in the Netherlands and Stavanger in Norway, and later in the three “Follower Cities”, Sabadell in Spain, Prague - the capital of the Czech Republic and in Leipzig, Germany.

The project is scheduled to continue until 2020: among its core objectives is the development of innovative, energy- saving technologies that will also dramatically lower carbon-dioxide emissions. Also planned are smart forms of mobility and a modern data infrastructure, but also citizen involvement in all creative and decision-making processes. The University of Stuttgart is participating as a partner in the “Triangulum” project through the Institute of Human Factors and Technology Management (IAT). The Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO) in Stuttgart is the project coordinator, supported by the Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum (SEZ), also based in Stuttgart. The core of the Smart City project is a transferable Smart City Framework and an IT architecture that will ensure that the various technologies in each city are internetworked and coordinated.

It is very important to create an understanding of processes and organizational structures at the specific location to implement smart solutions.

Sonja Stöffler, Institute of Human Factors and Technology Management, University of Stuttgart
Nachhaltige Energieversorgung in Stavanger, Norwegen.
Nachhaltige Energieversorgung in Stavanger, Norwegen.

Systematic Citizen Involvement

In Leipzig, the project is primarily focused on districts in the city's west end. The objective: to modernize a district shaped by industry. To approach the topic of “Smart Cities”, a comprehensive citizens’ involvement scheme was launched in the Saxony metropolis in the context of Project Triangulum, which, among other things, focused on sustainable mobility, intelligent living and an active urban society. In parallel to this, representatives from the higher administration and city council level discussed these topics in so-called future forums, before concrete solutions were discussed in “future labs”. The results of all of these initiatives were then compiled in the Smart-City Strategy Paper for Leipzig West, which was submitted to the EU in January 2018.

The visions set out for the district, which was originally dominated by a cotton mill, were informed by valuable insights from the Dutch “Strijp-S” project, which, under the auspices of Project Triangulum, centered on the transformation of an old industrial site in Eindhoven owned by Philips.

Solutions Replicated

One of the IAT's tasks, among others, was to work out how the solutions developed for the “Lighthouse Cities” could be replicated in the “Follower Cities”. To this end, as IAT staff member Sonja Stöffler reports, the participants set up the “Follower City Training Mission” in 2017, a series of workshops designed around the knowledge requirements of the “Follower Cities”. In the next step, cities, such as Leipzig, must find ways to fund and implement suitable solutions. According to Sonja Stöffler, one of the most important findings from the “Triangulum” project is that “it is very important to create an understanding of processes and organizational structures at the specific location”. To implement smart solutions, she says, a close collaboration with all stakeholders is extremely important. This is why, throughout the further course of the project, the Stuttgart-based researchers will provide ongoing close support for the participating cities as they implement the ideas that have been developed.

Jens Eber


This image shows Andrea Mayer-Grenu

Andrea Mayer-Grenu


Scientific Consultant, Research Publications

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