Dr. Osama El-Hassan Q1) How do you define a smart city? A city is smart when it (i) uses its tacit (intrinsic) knowledge and interlinks knowledge of all relevant sectors to cope with challenges of all kinds (not merely technical), (ii) seeks for integrated and robust programs, plans and solutions, i.e. those which are based on intersectoral knowledge and remain reversible, or at least correctable, and (iii) applies data and tailor made new appliances (smart technologies) in line with the application abilities of users, financial potentials and life cycle costs.


Q2) Taking into account your professional experience, how are different parts of the world and Germany approaching the smart city concept?
 The term "Smart and Sustainable Cities “, at the global and European level is primarily used by UN’s technical and economic entities (ITU, UNECWE) and the Commission for Energy at the EU with a high ICT and technological connotation. In contrast, the Smart City Charter in German (reference: http://www.bbsr.bund.de/BBSR/ DE/Veroeffentlichungen/ Sonderveroeffentlichungen/ 2017/smart-city-charta-de-eng- dl.pdf;jsessionid= 0710E11C4CE69712C7CD5C771C6262 6B.live21301?__blob= publicationFile&v=3) uses the term in a broader sense. This is due to the fact that Smart Cities are regarded as an aim towards a broader integration of themes, a result of integrated urban development planning and result oriented integration of technologies, rather than a mean in itself.


Q3) Nowadays we see an increase of new cities being build, and at the same time there are centuries-old cities. In order to become a smart city, do you think it is easier to start from scratch or to renovate?
 Starting from scratch with smart cities concepts can result in a disastrous misunderstanding, a horrific energy balance and a malapplication of technologies by its users which results precisely in total NON-sustainability. Smart cities concepts can be applied fruitfully in historic cities as well as in new towns. They enhance already existing, though hidden, abilities of cities and add new capabilities to the cities which amplify the cities’ already existing strengths, helps to overcome their specific weaknesses and makes use of yet hidden potentials but carefully focuses on potential threats of the application of ICT in urban development.

 

Q4) What are the main challenges and opportunities facing German cities over the next ten years? German cities are challenged by a surprising growth in the big seven cities and a number of university cities and secondary cities in favourable locations. At the same time, many cities primarily in structurally weaker regions face a severe loss of population. Growth and decline are two sides of a medal which many cities have to cope with either at the same time or consecutively. Cities compete with each other and internationally for talents and have to invest striking amounts for the refurbishment of technical, educative and social infrastructures. This implies also tailor-made ICT solutions and the smartization of productions processes in industry, services and housing.

 

Q5) How will the Department of Urban Development, Building, Housing and Transport of Association of German Cities be involved in overcoming some of these challenges? The Association of German Cities is the representative of 200 German cities and about 53 million urban population to the federal government. It negotiates adequate regulations which take the local level and its potentials into account, lobbies for public funds, programs and plans which support local activities, public investments and triggers private investments.

 

Q6) And finally, you will be delivering a speech at World Intelligent Cities Summit in Ankara on 13 December. Would you like to send a message to participants?If the term "Smart Cities“ pops us - don‘t think of technologies first - but rather think of thinking and merging local, technical, managerial and political knowledge and generate new solutions by your own means. If ICT can facilitate this way of solution making or even add to this - then Smart Cities technologies should be fine for the local bodies.

 

Hilmar von Lojewski, Head of the Department of Urban Development, Building, Housing and Transport, Association of German Cities

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