‘A city has to be not only smart but sustainable.’ Robert Franke, Director of Economic Office at the City of Dresden

Robert Franke, Director of Economic Office at the City of Dresden will be talking at Smart Summit Asia being held on the 30th November and 1st December at Suntec Convention Centre in Singapore.

Robert will be talking about Sharing European Experience for Best Practice for Future Cities on the Smart Cities track. His talk, which will be run on Day two of the conference, will cover utilising smart strategies for cities, maximising big data in the smart city and providing real solutions to the real problems cities face day to day

Robert Franke took some time to complete our speaker Q&A:


1. Please provide us with some information about the projects you are working on to make cities smarter?

Dresden is one of the greenest cities in Europe, lies in a valley and on both banks of the river Elbe.

With a pleasant location and a mild climate on the Elbe, as well as Baroque-style architecture and numerous world-renowned museums and art collections, Dresden has been called "Elbflorenz" (Florence of the Elbe). The incorporation of neighboring rural communities over the past 60 years has made Dresden the fourth largest urban district by area in Germany after Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne.

On the other hand the city has a lot of challenges. For example as explained the river is crossing the city, so parts of the city are connected via few bridges, which has impact for the daily commuter traffic. The location in the valley has influence to the air quality in the town.

In this context Dresden is working on various smart city projects together with partners in industry, research institutes and university. The targets are to improve this situation for citizen & industry as well as develop the city sustainable. We summaries these activities in three classes:

Smart Mobility, Smart Energy and Smart Communication

Here some of the projects to give an impression:

Smart Mobility

  • VAMOS stands for Traffic Analysis Management and Optimisation System. That system links traffic detectors, which are available in this region and the different traffic control and process systems of the urban road system as well as of the motorways. The basic system is the traffic information center of Dresden positioned at the Dresden University of Technology (TU Dresden). Based on the foundation of the determined traffic situation the system VAMOS controls different traffic control systems fully automatic. VAMOS also allocate as Content-Provider information for information and service work.
    In addition to the fully automatic traffic control, which works 24 hours per day, it is possible to impair manually the system over several operating stations. In addition to the operating station at the store controller of the city council there is installed such a system at the VAMOS-center of the TU Dresden which is used i. e. for different research projects.
  • The Driver Advisory System for Urban Public Transport supports busses and trams in energy efficient driving in combination with traffic light control. For example the project “COSEL” is supporting the driver of light rails for using the right speed to get always the next green window in phased traffic lights “EBIS” is the Real time River Elbe Bridge Information System, which is informing especially commuters and residents about situation of bridges in the town like traffic jam, construction areas. Based on this information the driver can choose the next alternative bridge to cross the river.
  • The CarGoTram is a freight tram in Dresden. It supplies Volkswagen's "Transparent Factory" (Gläserne Manufaktur) with parts for their automobile production. Movement of parts from the logistics center in Dresden Friedrichstadt (Dresden Frederickstown) to the factory is using a tram running over infrastructure normally used to move passengers. The route from the logistics center to the factory runs straight through the inner city of Dresden. The use of trucks would have caused an increase emissions, noise levels and traffic hazards in the city.

Smart Energy:

  • Data center with using wasted heat:
    • Together with Dresden University of Technology the company Cloud&Heat has developed a water cooling solution for server farms, which does not only reduce cooling costs considerably compared to conventional air cooling systems, but also makes waste heat useable. The city has installed few first projects, where the waste heat is used for heating system in houses and offices.
  • Innovative power plant:
    • In the district Dresden Reick is built a power plant, which is using a combination of renewables generation and storage battery to supply control power and minute reserve for the city power supply system. In a next step the supplier will invest in electricity-conversion i. e. power2heat, power2gas as energy storage for volatile renewables generation. Currently new sector coupling concepts are in investigation.

Smart Communication:

  • FAST:
    • Sensor and actuator systems are of paramount importance for the progress in almost all areas of our daily lives. In the future, the number of sensors and actuators per system will grow exponentially, for example more than 200 in the car. Hence, there are fundamental technical and commercial issues to overcome: sensors and actuators need to be connected in real-time through wireless and mobile networks to enable new functionalities for many applications in security, mobility, and health. The real-time capabilities enhance the quality of life of people - from the human perspective, real-time capability means that technology works without noticeable delay.
    • This challenge is taken by research project driven by the University of Dresden and a big consortium of industry and research institutes. The name for this project is FAST - fast actuators, sensors and transceivers.
    • The response time of interactive systems will be pushed to the maximum physical limit - the speed of light of 300 000 km/s. Hence, FAST is targeting system latencies of 1-10 ms to enable interaction in real-time.
    • To reach this objective, the consortium will work jointly together on real-time system design, extremely fast and energy-efficient semiconductor technologies at high operating frequencies and large bandwidths, parallel data processing, adaptive error correction, redesign and optimization of communication protocols of wireless and mobile networks as well as cloud computing, and security and safety issues.
    • The partners within the initial consortium are representing the complete value chain for future interactive real-time systems. They will benefit from interaction and networking in FAST by exchanging technical requirements and most promising solutions as well as detection and realization of exploitation opportunities. Various accessory activities in education, public relations, and technology transfer support the FAST strategy.
  •  5G-Testbed:
    • Dresden has made good experience with the first testbed for the 4th generation mobile networks in 2008. Many research institutes and companies in Dresden were involved in these research activities. Technologies, developed and validated in these years, have impact to upcoming fifth generation (5G) of mobile communication systems too. Today, a research initiative called 5G Lab Germany is established at University of Dresden as an interdisciplinary team with more than 500 researchers from 20 different research areas and aims to deliver key technologies for enabling 5G. There are more than 50 connected partners.
    • 5G will impact our life more than any other wireless technology in the past. The disruptive changes are the introduction of the Tactile Internet introducing latencies of 1ms, massive increase of security and resilience, as well as massive increase in throughput. It will enable tackling new markets such as Industry 4.0, transportation systems including secure driving, smart grids, health care, and many more disruption in markets as agriculture and construction industry.
    • Dresden will build up together with the network provider Vodafone and the 5G Lab Germany a new testbed in the city, to validate technologies of the new generation in real existing infrastructure, called field tests


2. What do you believe to be the key drivers for smart city growth?

I think one of the main reasons for smart city growth is the availability of technology that we are now able to apply to address urban development issues. The risk this carries is an ivory tower of technocracy. That is why we involve citizens in the process of applying new technologies and to address real life issues. That in the end is the key driver: satisfying citizen demand for a good, high quality urban life. Further it helps us in addressing challenges like demographic change with aging society but also in responding to climate change with smart measures.


3. How are you working to engage the citizens in smart city activity?
For the “Future City” project, Dresden is developing a vision for life in the city after 2030. As many actors as possible, from every area of life in the city, are being given the opportunity to put forward what they expect from their Smart City in the future and what potential they see to solve the current challenges in a smart way. Together with Dresden’s citizens and representatives from the worlds of research, local politics, the administration and companies, they are searching for sustainable solutions for climate change adaptation, the transition to renewable energy, job safety, affordable housing, sustainable mobility, immigration and demographic change. At the current stage we are working out specific plans for implementing those ideas.


4. Do you think there needs to be stronger business and public collaboration?
To bring forward solutions that are flexible and well implemented indeed collaboration is needed that bring together business and public authorities but also make use of science in monitoring those processes and the results.


5. How can cities become smarter, not just connected?
A city has to be not only smart but sustainable. Most of smart city projects are technical driven, but all members of a city like, residents, commuters and last but not least the industry need to be involved.

A good example is Dresden, where was started an activity called “Zukunftsstadt” = “Future City”. Citizens, scientists and government -all together are looking for concepts and visions for sustainable city development until year 2030. Several action items are defined to improve the communal living in all districts of the city by fostering social responsibility, creative forms of participation and sustainable actions.


6. Which are the key ways data is being used to enhance smart city capabilities?

Data has to be collected in a transparent way for the individual user to be able to monitor his or her actions when using infrastructure. It enables the steering of the smart city in a transparent way and gives strong information and control tools to a responsible administration. 


7. What are the key benefits to citizens and cities from smart city services?

Smart city services offer an enormous potential for the benefit of the citizen that are numerous and can’t all be named at this point. Just to name a few:

  • A smart grid brings higher transparency concerning energy usage and
  • Smart traffic controls better ability to steer traffic in a sustainable way or
  • eGovernment to communicate easier with public authorities.


8. What are the key challenges in making the transition to a smart city and how can they be overcome?

The answer is - Smart City is a process!

As explained before in point 5, technology is not the problem in Smart City strategies today.

Different cities will have different challenges to solve their own issues, based on cities’ objectives and on existing local resources.

The common challenge is to have a unique road map. So the first act should be a requirement specification based on a detailed analysis of the city, especially their resources, infrastructure and energy demand. This specification should contain a vision with distinction between an investment and an innovation agenda. If the vision is clarified already, then the question is valid, how technology can help with this.

Next is to involve stakeholders for this vision in an early stage, but take care to balance the account of them, because each party could have different meanings. Important is to share this vision to all and make a step beyond political and private sensitivities. On this way you are able to convince all

smart city projects are split very often in pillars like smart energy and smart communication, but additional benefit will achieve, if projects are connected in between. On this way projects will get more synergies between all sectors of a smart city.


9. How are security and privacy concerns being addressed?

To be able to avoid misuse of data and build the necessary citizen trust in smart systems data security and data protection are prerequisites. The up to now often lax security has to change to avoid economic disadvantages ranging from fraud, idea theft to other cyber-crime problems.


10. How are cities deploying LPWAN for more efficient connectivity, and what services are being enabled?

IoT applications and connected sensor systems require a wireless network to connect the device to the internet. There are correspondingly several types of wireless networks, with the most common being cellular and Wi-Fi, both with advantages and disadvantages in respect to costs, monthly fees.

Low Power Wide Area Networks have the potential to solve these issues, because they are designed for machine-to-machine (M2M) networking environments.

This enables smart applications that modernize and enrich our life in areas like health care, smart home, smart mobility (transport, logistic systems) or industrial applications - the perfect technology for smart cities.

Currently there are many different platforms and technologies available. Network provider are pushing 3GPP specified Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) LPWAN solution, which uses licensed 4G cellular spectrum. In 2017 first European countries will be part of deployment.

The city of Dresden will observe the market and the development in 2017, before any investigation will take place.


11. How are cities bridging internal silos for a cohesive Smart City strategy?

To address this matter cities form powerful cross functional teams with experts from all smart city related departments, science and strong ties to industry and civil society.

A smart city vision is indeed people driven. To solve a specific problem, things must be measurable and incentives must be transparent. A comfortable network environment should help to meet people with different opportunities to find the best way for realizing the vision of a Smart City with benefits for all.


About Smart Summit Asia

Smart Summit is a 2 day conference and exhibition covering the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem and its impact on the digital society.

With 4 in-depth event tracks and over 80 leading speakers, no other IoT event covers the Smart Home, Smart Cities and Industrial Internet of Things in as much detail.

Make sure you are present in Singapore on the 30th November & 1st December for THE Smart event of 2016.

To register your place please visit: iotsmartsummitasia.com/register-now


For more information please call Georgia Deery on +44 (0) 330 335 3900 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.