Smart Mobility in Germany

Experts from India explore mobility systems for the cities of tomorrow
visiting program to germany on smart cities with indian experts

The year 2007 heralded a turning point when for the first time in history more than 50% of the world’s population lived in cities. The mass migration from the country side to the urban centers is also changing India in a dramatic way: It is estimated at least 800 million Indians will live in cities by 2050.

A critical challenge that emerges is how to move these people from areas within a city to areas outside the centers where they will presumably reside. Urban transport must be planned with a strong focus on the mobility needs of the populace today, but also the needs of the future generations and, importantly, the ecological, economic and technological trends of tomorrow.

To better understand how technology can help create better opportunities for resource efficient, “smart” mobility, the Regional Office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) together with the International Academy for Leadership (IAF) in Gummersbach organized a study tour to Germany. A group of seven senior transport planners, city designers, technologists and researchers from India spent one week in Germany and visited Hamburg, Stuttgart and Karlsruhe.

 The group interacted with experts at transport associations, city administrations, innovation labs and think tanks. The overriding theme was always: How do Germany’s cities deal with the challenge of creating and promoting mobility solutions that are “smart”?

During the course of the week, participants discussed the latest technological developments as well as innovative approaches to city and transport design. The “tech-first approach” to participative city planning demonstrated at the CityScienceLab in Hamburg inspired the participants to try this out once back home in India. The Hamburg HafenCity, an innovative inner city brownfield redevelopment project within Germany’s main harbor, stood out as the highlight of the visit, said the delegates.  The planners and designers from South Asia were excited to see how such a project with a citizens-focused public transport system is put into practice.

The program showcased the most recent developments on various administrative levels. “From a large city to a mid-range city to a smaller city region, the program had it all”, said Advait Jani, Manager at the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP).

Joining the team from our New Delhi office was Program Manager for Digital Transformation, Rajat Kumar, who is upbeat that the program met the objectives:

“The perspectives and projects we saw were eye-opening, I strongly believe some of the things we saw can be adapted and implemented in India to make city transport more equitable, efficient and ecological”, he said.