When the first commercial flight departed from the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport in November, it spelled the end for the city’s beloved Tegel Airport as a transportation hub. But it also cleared the runway for a long-awaited smart city project.
The former airport and its environs are becoming the Urban Tech Republic, a research and industrial park with a university campus. It will include a fully networked, climate-neutral residential area, the Schumacher Quartier, where smart mobility concepts will be tested.
The Urban Tech Republic is just one of many smart city projects under way in Germany, touching every aspect of city life, from infrastructure and transport to schools and administration. And these developments are creating unprecedented opportunities for international entrepreneurs to help shape Germany’s future.
“Cities are always changing,” says Michael Pfefferle, an expert on smart cities at the German digital association Bitkom. “Smart cities are a new vision of cities that use data to make better decisions and improve the quality of life for people living there.”
It’s not about tearing everything down and building anew. By adding the latest technology to a city to collect and analyze data about how people really use their urban environment, it becomes easier to improve mobility, conserve energy, save money and resources, and streamline bureaucracy. Covid-19 has put much of the municipal status quo up for discussion, and niches are opening everywhere for forward-looking entrepreneurs and companies with smart concepts.