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Cologne’ s “Climate Street’ to provide a model for a Digital City

The city of Cologne, on the bank of the river Rhine, has designated a downtown street as a “Climate Street’, and it is expected to act as a living lab which will test climate-friendly technologies and make the flow of traffic more efficient. This initiative is run by the city together with the electricity company RheinEnergie.

In many part of Asia, entire smart cities have emerged from scratch in recent years, such as Songdo, in South Korea. Apart from the criticism that such initiatives create cities that are only accessible to the rich and upper middle class, this approach is almost impossible to replicate in Europe, where cities have grown gradually over centuries and digital and smart solutions have to complement existing infrastructures.

This is what is being done in Cologne. Its “Climate Street’ was established in the historical center as a model and testbed for what a whole digital city could look like in the future. A discreet camera gauges the traffic light circuit while another monitors the parking situation. The aim is to generate and cross-link data, so that, one day, a monitor can show drivers empty parking spaces and guide them there, while delivery truck drivers will receive traffic light data to allow them to adjust their speed in such a way as to avoid stopping at traffic lights. The regulation of traffic flow and less cars circling around in search of parking spots means less congestion and fewer pollutants in the air.

Many cities in Germany are developing similar smart city initiatives under one roof, with Cologne’ s neighbor, Dortmund, launching its own initiatives to develop the quality of life for its inhabitants.

The original article, by Lisa Hänel, can be found on DW.com