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Smart Country News

August 15th 2022

Picture: Microsoft

When a city or region decides to become a smart city/region, it creates big expectations. When people are asked what they think a smart city entails and what they expect from digitalisation in their home town or region, the answers they give vary widely. That is a good thing, says Henrike Etzelmüller, industry adviser for Sustainable Cities & Regions at Microsoft Germany. In her guest article in Behörden Spiegel however, she cautions that smart cities in Germany lack a clear orientation which she says could accelerate digitalisation in cities and municipalities.

Climate protection as a quantifiable goal

One goal that smart cities could target is climate protection. Etzelmüller’s work includes examining how digitalisation and sustainability can be integrated in public sector projects and the relevant eco-systems.

“A desire is mounting in both politics and society to manage resources in a manner that takes successive generations into account“, says Etzelmüller. “Digitalisation and sustainability go hand in hand here. It is something the German government laid down in its coalition agreement.“ Sustainability covers ecological, business and social aspects. Regarding the ecological aspect in particular, in Germany the arguments are not only emotive but also founded in law, says Etzelmüller. The federal government’s Climate Change Act stipulates that Germany must become climate-neutral by 2045. For 2030, the goal is 65 per cent less emissions than 1990. Irrespective of what the federal law says, local decision-making must take the impact of climate change into account. As a result, adapting to the consequences of climate change will automatically always be a part of the public administration agenda.

Digitalisation and climate protection – an enormous task

As with the major task of digitalisation, climate protection cannot be confronted with only small measures. “Coordinating climate protection measures is highly complex, as a host of sectors – the energy, building and transport sectors as well as the industry in general – must contribute. Attaining climate targets must be monitored by way of multi-year accounting across the relevant sectors in line with the Paris Climate Accords“, says Etzelmüller. “The idea is that climate monitoring will support municipalities on the way to a climate-neutral digital future. The aim is to combine data from across the sector and establish a single up-to-date balance sheet of greenhouse gas emissions and the CO2 budget.“

Henrike Etzelmüller will also appear on stage at the Smart Country Convention 2022 and talk about the benefits of digitalisation and sustainability and how the two can be combined. “We are witnessing a big push for climate protection – perhaps because we have no other choice. Cities have an opportunity to redefine themselves with this once-in-a-lifetime issue and to become digitalised and sustainable in order to manage resources in a manner that takes successive generations into account.“


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