Understanding “Smart Cities” in Germany
With its “100 Smart Cities Mission”, India’s government is showcasing the vision to make cities more livable in a sustainable manner. Here, the focus is on tackling pressing problems such as housing shortages, poor water and energy supply and the overburdened infrastructure. Assuming that Germany with decades of expertise and experience in city planning could provide useful lessons, the Regional Office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) invited a group of senior delegates from India and Pakistan for a week long information program in Germany on "Smart Cities: How to make cities citizen-friendly and livable".
The tour was to familiarize the visitors from South Asia with German experience of implementing sustainable solutions for urban challenges. The participants also learned about innovative models of citizens’ participation and the role of political parties in implementing various “Smart City” models.
During the program, the group interacted with German experts from municipal administrations, the private sector and political representatives. The program lead to Berlin and Hamburg, the two largest German cities. The delegates visited EuRef Campus and Adlershof in Berlin. A short-ride in the first driverless car, Olli, developed by Deutsche Bahn (German Railways), which is on a trial-run, added another highlight.
“The continuous promotion of pedestrian and bicycle traffic as well as public transport over a number of years has led to remarkably low rates of motorization in Berlin”, said Andreas Müer, Head of the Traffic Management, VMZ Berlin (Verkehr Mobilität Zukunft).
The FNF-Office in Berlin invited the guests to a join panel discussion and exchange experiences from South Asia. Anil Nair, Deputy Head of Advocacy, Janaagraha, a partner organization of the Regional Office of FNF, New Delhi, working on Urban Governance and Smart Cities, talked about the challenges implementing the Smart Cities and Smart Mobility missions in India. In Hamburg, Pronita Saxena, CEO and Founder of Citizengage, presented her Start-up on Solid Waste Management with a group of young start-ups in Hamburg.
The program concluded with a discussion with Jens Meyer of the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) who specializes in city development and talked about strategies to improve the city infrastructure.
“The program was very useful to get a first-hand understanding of the innovative solutions to improve the quality of life of German citizens. I am positive that our guests from India and Pakistan will take the learnings home and contribute towards making their cities smarter”, said Subodh Kumar Agarwal, FNF Program Manager, who led the study tour.