Hamburg, Germany's big vision: A smart city and a smart port

Fri, 2014-05-02 06:00 -- Jesse Berst

Hamburg and its port

Hamburg, Germany is no slouch when it comes to smart approaches. In fact, Cisco's chief globalization officer Wim Elfrink said the other day that Hamburg is quickly emerging as one of the world's smart city showcases. And Cisco, a Council Global Partner, just signed an agreement to help move Hamburg further down that path.

There are a number of pilot projects on the table. Among them: a virtual citizen services solution, where city administrative services are provided through a high-definition, remote video kiosk. Cisco has implemented something similar in a shopping mall in Nice, France.

"By signing the Memorandum of Understanding, we are preparing our city for the future," said Frank Horch, the city's Senator for Economic Affairs, Transport and Innovation. "Future possibilities through connecting people, processes, data, and things will not only revolutionize cities and communities, but will also bring additional convenience for citizens. Our job is to guide these developments in the right direction by establishing the appropriate framework and ensuring that we take advantage of opportunities and master challenges."

What may set Hamburg apart, however, is its commitment to include its port – the city's economic backbone – in the smart equation.

"Already a pioneer in its use of technology," Elfrink notes, "Hamburg is fast becoming the first true Seatropolis because of collaborative leadership that understands the economic and quality-of-life value that can be realized from the Internet of Everything."

While acknowledging the port's role in the city's economy, Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) Chairman Jens Meier said that doesn't mean their intention is to build out roads, rail connections and waterways without limits. "Over the next years, we will be developing the Port of Hamburg into a smartPORT in order to further increase the efficiency of the current infrastructure and quality of services," he said.

Among the current ideas on how to make that happen:

    • An intelligent parking space control system for trucks and loaders will be developed near the port to improve the traffic and parking situation
    • A fully integrated traffic management system will enable an optimized flow of cars and trucks, which should help prevent traffic jams and detect potential incidents
    • Energy consumption will be optimized through smart streetlights
    • Emissions data will be analyzed to provide more reliable forecasts on noise, temperatures, humidity, and pollution
    • Port infrastructures will be monitored to ensure safe and efficient operations.

To help ensure smart Hamburg has the future IT experts it will need, Cisco is expanding its networking academy in the city, which over the past 10 years has had almost 2,000 students participate in its courses. Cisco also plans to offer new coursework in the areas of smart grid, cyber security and the Internet of Everything

How other port cities have modernized:


Jesse Berst is the founding Chairman of the Smart Cities Council. Click to learn about the benefits you receive when you join the Council for free. Follow @Jesse_Berst and connect on LinkedIn.