Science Year 2015

Science Year 2015 – City of the Future

The German Federal Association for Sustainability has been partner of the Science Year 2015

Wissenschaftsjahr 2015 - ZukunftsstadtThe 2015 Science Year demonstrated how research can support this process: Experts have been providing useful knowledge and showing new ways to develop the City of the Future together with the local population.

Diverse developments occur simultaneously in cities, sometimes moving in opposite directions and causing conflict. Urban communities include large numbers of people whose lives and living environments intersect. It is therefore very important to take a holistic perspective and consider as many aspects of urban life as possible.
(Source: German Federal Ministry for Education and Rresearch)
The German Federal Association for Sustainability has been closely involved with a specially designed, workshop series “Urban Future”.

Today, approximately three billion people live in cities, another three billion will be added within the next 40 years. Historic cities such as London, Paris or Berlin rely on digital technology to accommodate their ever-growing population. By optimization of energy networks, public transport, pedestrian and car traffic they are trying to meet the demographic challenges. Together with technology companies many governments of today’s cities try to make a “ubiquitous city” in which everything is connected. Millions of sensors across the infrastructure, in all buildings provide data to a central computer that controls the majority of the municipal services as efficiently as possible. These data are collected automatic in large control centers and evaluated, as in a science fiction scenario.

The term “Smart City” is globally increasing across many industries. As a conceptual response to current economic, social and political challenges it is more and more used as a title for conferences, trade shows, political debates, projects of corporations and cities and research directions.

The city of tomorrow shall be energy efficient, technology-based and socially interactive. Smart Cities are the future and thus the “place” for profitable large investments in which a wide variety of businesses, policy makers and funders want to be involved. Futuristic planned cities are prototypes of green and super networked cities with the latest digital and environmental technology, and they multiply almost viral in many countries. The new cities which spring out of nowhere are designed as an environmentally friendly and energy-saving living space. Such cities shall consume about 30 percent less resources than “old” cities such as Paris or London.

For this, however, you need a (r)evolutionary technology transformation: as we are moving in the city, the exact energy consumption of households, our communication with each other – that everything is stored in central computers, enabling cities to function optimally. Although these data make things easier in all areas of life they also stir up fears of a surveillance society. For some these new cities are to die for and a possible future model. Others see such cities as soulless places bringing into reality the Orwellian nightmare. The concept of Smart Cities ultimately raises many policy questions:

  • Run the new urban technologies to increased collective consciousness in which the individual feels more connected to the community?
  • Or are these digital information the new means of a central power, a kind of Big Brother to control urban life to the smallest detail?
  • Are these new cities really efficient?
  • Are these new cities habitable?
  • Or is it ultimately only urban utopias?

SechsGrad Innovation
in cooperation with the German Federal Association for Sustainability has designed a a workshop series to “Urban Future”. The first phase begins on February 13 with a total of 8 workshops. With the slogan “People make smarter cities” the aspect of Smart People is placed at the center. The language of the inputs is English. The teams can agree on the language of teamwork:

Part 1: What is a Smart City? An interactive introduction
Part 2: Megatrend Smart City – The theory of Matthias Horx & a resilient future
Part 3: Bottom-up Urban Innovation – How to build on existing projects by the people
Part 4: Smart Governance & “Kiez“management
Part 5: Smart Education – How to use Design Thinking at Schools (Project Kottibuch)
Part 6: Cloud Computing & The Internet of Things
Part 7: Scientific Tools to predict the Future of the City
Part 8: Citizen right to a Smart City

Aim of each workshop is to help participants using the design thinking method to deal with each of the above topics and questions and to try to design the best scenarios for the most influential participation of citizens in the cities of the future. Therefore each workshop is based on one of the hotly debated aspects of the concept of “Smart City”.

The participants are students, young entrepreneurs, volunteers and staff from different organizations and institutions in Berlin, which deal with the issue of sustainable urban development. In the long run it is time to establish a co-creative network that is connected not only by contact exchange, but by common user-centered concept development.

After the first phase – where everything is documented – the results will be analyzed and on this basis the second workshop series will be designed.

the workshops are based on “Design Thinking”, a process developed by a professor at Stanford University to promote creative ideas. The proccess creates space for innovative exchanges: the method focuses on producing innovations that are based on the user and satisfy their needs. It is an iterative innovation method that puts people at the center and is intent on the basis of interviews and research to develop creative solutions to real problems of real people. This method consists of six phases: 1. understanding 2. observe, 3. synthesis, 4. finding ideas, 5. prototyping, 6. testing.

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