Nowadays, cities don’t develop at the same pace as the challenges of urban life do. According to many experts, smart cities are the best strategy we have to come up with measurements to counterattack these challenges. Joe Hopper, the founder of Smart City Hamburg project, is a firm believer in catering the citizens’ needs through smart city policies. GIVEN THE RISING INTEREST FOR SMART CITY IMPLEMENTATION, DURING THE MONTHS OF FEBRUARY AND MARCH, WE COVERED SOME OF THE MOST NOTABLE EXAMPLES OF SMART CITIES AROUND THE WORLD, THAT PUT INTO EVIDENCE THAT WE ARE IN FRONT OF A REAL ACTION PLAN FOR A BETTER FUTURE, NOT JUST A PASSING FAD. During the months of February and March, we have covered in our blog several examples of successful smart city implementation. First, we talked about the trajectory of Barcelona, which has become a reference point for other cities, seeking to start on the path of a smart city. We have also explored Sidewalk Toronto, a unique project that foresees the construction of a visionary smart neighborhood of 325 hectares on the shores of Lake Ontario. Thirdly, we covered several projects of future smart cities in Mexico and the efforts made by large cities such as Mexico City and Monterrey to improve the quality of life of their citizens through new smart resources. We also tackled the subject of the social dimension of urban development and how small changes in our way of constructing can have important repercussions for the people who inhabit them.
The need to stand up and face the challenges
For urban populations, the years to come are full of challenges: world population is constantly growing, as is the urbanization rate, we are already consuming more resources than we can provide, the energy grids are outdated and the investments in these installations are no match to the predicted needs. Given the magnitude of changes ahead of us, now would be a good time to act.
The motivation behind the Smart City Hamburg initiative
In his masterclass, Joe Hopper, a Management Consultant at SCALIAN, explains the motives behind his decision to launch a bottom-up smart city initiative in Hamburg. Given his background and his knowledge of how to set up complex industrial and systematic structures, he considered it his responsibility to take some action. When the city of Hamburg and Cisco, a software developer, signed a collaboration agreement to make Hamburg smart by 2050, Joe Hopper felt that one of the key elements — the people of Hamburg — was excluded from the process. In his opinion, the people’s opinions and worries should be taken into account, as the purpose of a smart city is to create a sustainable, socially inclusionary, green, mobile and technologically advanced city that can cater to the needs of its population.
The members of the Smart City Hamburg initiative
Smart City Hamburg was launched through various Meetup events and other social media platforms. After only a couple of weeks, there were more than 400 registered members and 12 months later the community had grown to over 700 members. Smart City Hamburg meetings are places where the members can address collectively their biggest preoccupations (e.g. the lack of housing) and present their propositions (e.g. more green spaces). For Hopper, the community is the backbone of Smart City Hamburg: they bring up problems and talk about possible solutions during round-table discussions. It is also important that the community of 700 people itself creates a lot of buzz, which helps to raise the general awareness. Today, the Hamburg Transport Association is one of the co-organisers of the activities in order to develop intelligent and sustainable mobility concepts.
Vision Hamburg 2030: Mobility
The autonomous vehicles are at the center of three main compartments of Hamburg’s transportation: sharing initiatives, local public transport, on-demand services (like Uber).In his presentation, Joe Hopper also introduces a prototype where above each train compartment a specific bar, which changed its color based on the available seats in the wagon, was installed. They hope to improve the prototype through the feedback they have received and this project was to be implemented in all stations across Hamburg. If you want to learn more about the specifics of Smart City Hamburg bottom-up initiative, check out the masterclass by Joe Hopper or read his interview to Zigurat on the same themes.