City of humans

Not only does data flow all around the world: Networking is also changing everyday life right on our doorsteps. “Smart Urban” is one of the top themes of the Light + Building 2020.

Everyday life is getting smart: Apps tell us whether the shared electric car on the next street corner is charged. Or whether taking the bus might be quicker after all. In the evenings the streetlights only power up fully when the shops have turned off the lights in their window displays. The waste collection services don’t collect bins according to a fixed schedule, but when the sensor for the fill level sounds the alarm. And those are just three examples of intelligent networking in our urban districts. At the Light + Building 2020, networking in line with the buzzword of ‘Smart Urban’ is one of the current top themes when it comes to buildings. The world’s leading trade fair for lighting and building technology sees its 20th year as an opportunity to showcase smart living in the city: The safe and efficient networking of people, places and infrastructures can make everyday life easier and help save energy. Some of the conceivable applications still belong to the category “future vision”, while visitors are already able to experience others today. Imagine the following scenario: When the street light ascertains that your electric car has been parked in front of the house, parking fees are deducted, the charging process is initiated, the pavement up to your front door is dynamically lit, the front door opened by facial recognition, the seasonally-specific light mood and your favorite music initiated.

Thomas Welter also sets great store by intelligent infrastructure. “The technological opportunities could also lead to us using scarce resources more efficiently,” says the Federal Chairman of the Association of German Architects (BDA). He is thinking not just of our electricity consumption, when for example the energy surplus in one building compensates for the momentary deficit in another. Welter also sees available space in a city as a resource that is just as important. Intelligent parking space use and modular mobility could likewise contribute to stationary traffic using up less space: The intelligent city as a city of humans, not of parked cars. The Light + Building 2020 shows which solutions and products are already available for implementing the electrical infrastructure on and in buildings necessary for realizing such concepts in the special show “Power for Mobility”.

“A further aspect of networking is the question of how we can make the services a city provides for its citizens more transparent and more swiftly accessible,” Thomas Welter comments. He relates this to what public authorities provides, and what the private sector has to offer. He thus addresses a central aspect of “smart urban” living: It is not just data that needs to be networked, the different agents, the administration, the companies and the people living in a neighborhood all need to play their part. He warns however against simply exploiting the opportunities innate in “smart urban” lock, stock and barrel. “The overheads for technical building equipment are rising constantly and are being increased even further by digitization.” What’s more, the technical facilities are becoming obsolete much faster that the buildings themselves. While a good edifice easily lasts decades, the technology is already obsolete after five to ten years. This put a strain on budgets and used up a great deal of resources, says the BDA Federal Chairman. “The art lies in only implementing those things that offer a considerable added value, so it’s actually worth it.” When networking buildings and infrastructure, the key then appears to be applying common sense – but when implemented sensibly, “smart urban” networking is a good tool for getting our urban neighborhoods fit for the future. (JJ)

Due to the worldwide spread of the corona virus, Light + Building will be cancelled in 2020. The next world's leading trade fair for lighting and building services technology will take place in Frankfurt am Main from 13 to 18 March 2022.

Light + Building 2020: Top Theme "Connecting"