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The study "Smart Cities – networked living and economic areas" examines and analyzes various aspects of a smart city. Among other things, our experts discuss how retail, the real estate industry, energy suppliers, transport companies, mobility providers and administration are contributing to making cities smarter and more digital.

Here they provide insights into how important it is to network the various municipal facilities and companies. Because smart city concepts are particularly successful if the future solutions are thought of together and networked by municipal companies.

Urban companies therefore have a great deal of responsibility when it comes to transforming German cities into innovative Smart Cities.

The energy sector plays an important role

A basic prerequisite for the functioning of smart and networked cities is a reliable infrastructure for energy, mobility and telecommunications. The energy sector is particularly important here: it has to ensure that all of the city's facilities are supplied with electricity.

Whether municipal utilities, transport companies or housing associations: Municipal companies are acting more than ever at the interfaces of the future. Digital solutions and sustainability efforts have a particular impact on cities and municipalities. Many municipal companies have already pushed ahead with innovative ideas in sub-areas and independently of one another and have taken the first steps. For the success of a smart city, however, networking of solutions is essential.

Three examples clearly show what cross-sectoral work can look like.

Power distribution grid

Smart grid has long been an important term in the energy industry. A smart power grid knows which loads occur at which point. Transmission system operators are primarily responsible for load distribution.

Due to the expansion of decentralized generation capacities, electricity in the distribution grid no longer flows in one direction only. Prosumers - i.e. consumers and producers in one - and decentralized storage options lead to a flow of electricity in different directions. A private photovoltaic system, for example, feeds excess electricity into the grid at midday, and in the early evening the local distribution grid supports the charging of private electric cars. These new requirements require adapted load management and significantly smarter networks.

In order to ensure security of supply, urban energy storage in the form of battery storage power plants and storage for sustainable hydrogen are just as conceivable as controlling many small current consumers such as e-cars. The area-wide expansion of intelligent networks, meters and fast internet is a basic requirement here.

Connected driving

Individual mobility of the future is green, electric, networked and possibly autonomous. Innovative infrastructure is also needed for this goal. Charging stations for e-vehicles are just as indispensable as customer-friendly and efficient billing systems. And this is exactly where the responsibilities of public utilities and transport companies mix. That is why the networking of these municipal companies is so important.

While there are already autonomous trains in rail-bound transport, autonomous driving on the road is still in its infancy. But the potential for traffic-plagued cities is huge: Autonomous mobility can avoid traffic jams and optimize the use of parking space. Flexible toll systems can help to relieve inner cities. In turn, fast data transfers and data security are a basic requirement. Municipal companies with their experience in the field of critical infrastructure can provide the right answer for 5G, broadband expansion and cyber security. Innovative infrastructure is needed to achieve this goal. Charging stations for e-vehicles are just as indispensable as customer-friendly and efficient billing systems. And this is precisely where the responsibilities of municipal utilities and transport companies intermingle. That is why the networking of these municipal companies is so important.

Sector boundaries are becoming increasingly blurred

New digital solutions, innovative technologies and approaches to climate protection are increasingly blurring sector boundaries in an intelligent city of tomorrow. Electric cars will then ensure grid stability with their batteries, waste heat from data centers will heat schools and excess wind energy will be converted into green hydrogen for self-driving fuel cell buses. Reliable energy management and fast data transmission form the foundation for innovative, sustainable living, working and moving in a smart city.