How can all German cities profit from the national economic growth? How can the growing financial divide between cities be stopped? What development opportunities can be secured for all of them?
Over 1,000 city delegates met to discuss these questions at the General Meeting of the German Association of Cities “Deutscher Städtetag.”
This municipal umbrella association declares itself as “the Voice of Germany’s Cities.” It represents the interest of 3,400 member cities against Federal Government, Federal States (“Bundesländer”), the Bundestag, the Bundesrat, the European Union and numerous organizations. The voluntary association actively represents the cause of local self-government, facilitates the exchange of experiences between its member cities, and influences lawmaking by stating its position on draft legislation and holding discussions with the parliament as well as the government.
This year’s general meeting took place in Dresden, the capital of the Free State of Saxony situated in a valley of the River Elbe – a city with over half a million citizens.
The meeting addressed the difficult financial situations of many German cites. German Chancellor Angela Merkel did not try to gloss over that problem in her welcome speech. She said the use of the available municipal financial resources of German cities has to be carefully considered.
There was also time for different panels, which discussed how the financial situation of cities can be enhanced, how poor citizens can receive better access to education, and how demographic change can be a challenge or a chance for urban development. A panel that stood out was inspired by this year’s focus on the so-called German Science Year: “the City of the Future.”
The discussion raised the question of how a sustainable infrastructure and the appropriate services can be supplied at reasonable costs while taking into account that social and ecological standards have to be ensured. Although the timeframe was too limited to analyze novel intelligent system solutions in-depth, it became clear that many cities have problems with deciding where to put their investments.
Should they invest in the conservation of existing infrastructure or in new technologies? Or both?
The latter discussion continued at the Siemens booth, which offered several smart solutions that help cities in the transition toward a more energy-efficient and resources-friendly future, including the new City Performance Tool (CyPT). This software is a further development of the successful Siemens Green City Index. Klaus Heidinger, Head of City IT Applications at Siemens, said CyPT supports cities by identifying “the right technologies for their future.” The simulation tool calculates the environmental and economic impact of over 70 building, transport and energy technologies and also provides tangible environmental results relative to the amount invested. This helps city officials to most efficiently use their budgets.
Another cutting-edge innovation that Siemens presented in Dresden is Desigo CC, the most extensive integrated building management system currently on the market worldwide. It controls and optimizes lighting, shading, air climate and energy management as well as fire safety and security services. Buildings can achieve a better environmental performance, which helps to cut costs.
Considering that buildings consume the biggest amount of energy in a city, a management system like Desigo CC could greatly impact the carbon footprint of an urban area and help to reduce operational costs of municipal buildings. Not surprisingly, there was a constant flow of city delegates targeting the Siemens booth.