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19 December 2019

Cologne blog: The future of GrowSmarter’s solutions

The work we have done in GrowSmarter will have a lasting impact on the City of Cologne, but hopefully also far beyond our city limits. The three ‘action areas’ all hold different promises and possibilities for our – and other smart cities – future work.

Low Energy Districts

The replication potential for refurbishment is high all over Europe, especially as public housing owners have the capacity to quickly cover a very large number of dwellings with a single action. There is also the possibility to have lower investment costs by contracting large projects based on our experience in GrowSmarter where we refurbished no less than 687 dwellings.

The City of Cologne is now looking actively into finding other quarters or neighbourhoods where similar measures could be implemented as the next pilots, both in areas with single-family owners and not. We are also developing new guidelines for sustainable city planning to include climate protection measures at an early stage, such as energy and mobility concepts, as part of the early planning procedure for new buildings and areas.


The development of mobility stations and the introduction of E-bike sharing and E-car-sharing as well as shared parking in GrowSmarter currently serves as a role model for the entire City of Cologne in order to improve traffic flows. The public transportation company KVB will purchase more bicycles in Cologne as a result of the successful implementation and will gradually expand the operating area to all of Cologne.

Expansion of charging infrastructure is a priority in Cologne, as in most European cities. The City has developed a comprehensive master plan for future mobility stations including e-vehicles with the plan to implement it as funding arises. Currently, the question of who will be running the mobility stations is being discussed within the various branches of public services.

Integrated infrastructure

The third action area of GrowSmarter was integrated infrastructure – looking into the possibilities of using data to better reach our ambitions of fighting climate change and make our cities more sustainable. In Cologne, the topic of a big open data platform has received much attention on a city-wide scale and is in the process of city-wide negotiations regarding the use and implementation of a big data platform with the entire municipality.

These discussions are based on the work we have done to successfully implement big data platforms in GrowSmarter.

City-to-city engagement to share our Smart solutions

The city limits of Leverkusen borders the project area in Mülheim. In Leverkusen, the company Bayer is the largest employer after Ford. Therefore, the commuter flows between Cologne and Leverkusen are an issue to be solved for the city administration of Leverkusen. The City of Leverkusen has been working on mobility concepts for five years and wanted to look at the GrowSmarter solutions in the Stegerwaldsiedlung. Representatives from Leverkusen’s city administration from the areas of urban planning, climate protection and traffic joined us on September 30, 2019 to learn more about our mobility solutions. The solution of a mobility station is currently not available in Leverkusen, but the representatives consider the concept to be transferable. The idea to make the common multi-ticket available for different means of transportation, as done in Cologne, will be tried in any case. Since Leverkusen still has a large buildable area near the city boundary, there are good reasons to begin cooperation with Cologne. The intensive talks will continue on a bilateral level.

GrowSmarter presented itself at InterGeo Stuttgart

The InterGeo Conference and Trade Fair is the largest SmartCity fair in Germany and had 22,000 visitors stop by in September 2019. The Cologne leader on mobility, Carsten Rickers, presented our mobility-solutions in a 2.5-hour session and discussed mobility concepts with representatives from other cities. At another session we shared our evaluation results and our outlook on how the smart city models we have used can be transferred to other cities to further the rollout of smart cities.

The city of Cologne was not alone in presenting our results at this forum and we were joined by successful start-up companies with different smart city solutions. We used our engagement at the conference to discuss how the cooperation between city, business and science can become even more successful in the future. This resulted in important inputs and possible new partnerships between Cologne and industrial partners in future projects.

Local celebration of GrowSmarter

Shortly before the end of the GrowSmarter project, it was important for the representatives of the City of Cologne and the industry partners to invite the residents of the Mülheim project area to a final event on November 7. Without the active participation of local residents, the implementation of the GrowSmarter measures would not have been possible. In particular, the tenants of the Stegerwaldsiedlung had to endure during the energy efficient refurbishment of their apartments; issues such as noise, elimination of parking lots, outsourcing of furniture in containers have been dealt with by the residents and the project partners wanted to thank them with this event.

We invited all the tenants and the District Mayor of Mülheim gave an outlook on what further developments are expected for the district of Mülheim and how the residents will benefit from it. Dr. Barbara Möhlendick, my colleague as GrowSmarter’s site manager in Cologne, briefly summed up the results of the project, emphasizing that residents can be proud of their neighbourhood being a role model for the rest of Europe.

We also had the opportunity to present  GrowSmarter at the local housing conference 'Wachstum-Wandel-Wohnen'. The conference was held with multiple internal and external stakeholders on December 7 in Cologne. GrowSmarter was presented in the session on 'Preserving good things and daring new things'. Those kinds of events are a good chance to reach the existing building sector which is becoming more and more important and interesting to all stakeholders.

Cologne at the final conference of the EU-project GrowSmarter in Stockholm

When we set out three years ago, together with Barcelona and Stockholm, to prepare our city to join the fight against climate change, the aim was to develop measures contributing to save energy, reduce CO2 emissions and improve the quality of life for citizens throughout Europe.

So being at the final conference of GrowSmarter was a great experience for Cologne. In the presence of the Mayor of Stockholm Anna King Jerlmyr, the Commissioner of the 2030 Agenda 2030 at the City of Barcelona Miquel Rodriguez and the Vice-Mayor from Cologne Dr. Heinen, the success of the project was clearly presented.

City officials agree that the project is a major milestone in sustainable urban development and will therefore be a model for other cities in Europe. This already applies to the five Follower Cities (Cork, Graz, Suceava, Valetta and Porto).

The results are so convincing that the project has won numerous awards and prizes, such as in Cologne the special award of the BMWi on intelligent regions in Germany of the initiative "Intelligent networking", the award as NRW climate protection neighborhood, the award of the VKU of the innovative software Siedlungsmanagement management of RheinEnergie.

In Cologne, here in the Mülheim project area and the Stegerwaldsiedlung, the ambitious targets for CO2 savings and for the reduction of primary energy have been achieved. The deployment of mobility stations in the project area with connection to public transport, Car-Sharing, Bike-Sharing, online parking reservation and public charging stations has proven itself as an alternative to private cars and will now be rolled out on city-wide-scale in Cologne within the framework of the Green City Master Plan.

The surrounding cities and communities are also working within the larger network to support and implement mobility stations.

The Stegerwaldsiedlung is the largest self-contained neighbourhood area selected for a project such as GrowSmarter. The savings of CO2 by up to 72 percent and the primary energy between 77 and 83 percent and the savings of about 60 percent in the area of mobility stations could only be achieved through the overall concept of the measures.

Responsible for our effort in Cologne was a consortium consisting of the Deutsche Wohnungsgesellschaft (e.g. energy-efficient insulation and lighting, as well as windows with triple glazing), RheinEnergie AG (control of energy consumption using the software "Siedlungsmanagement", equipment with photovoltaic systems, air heat pumps, battery storage), the KVB (BikeSharing, Multiticket), Cambio CarSharing, Ampido (Online Parking Space Reservation), AGT (Real-Time Smart Plug Measurement Data Consumption and Use Analysis) and ui!] (Urban Open Data Platform, Smart City Cockpit and GreenAir Room Climate Control) and the City of Cologne (overall project management and coordination of the individual work-packages in Cologne as well as the coordination work on the topic of integrated infrastructures on international scale).

Delegations from more than 28 countries have already experienced the measures for themselves, so the Stegerwald neighbourhood can rightly be described as a model for European cities.

Now, based on the success of the GrowSmarter project, the City of Cologne can continue the development of the sustainable SmartCity Cologne with the participating companies.

4 November 2019

Cologne Blog #11: Sharing the Smart Solutions

In the past five years, the GrowSmarter partners in Cologne have achieved great results in the three different areas of the project: Low Energy Districts, Integrated Infrastructures and Sustainable Urban Mobility. Now we are working hard to ensure upscaling becomes possible in Cologne and that other cities can benefit from our efforts and replicate the smart city solutions we have implemented.

To this effect, we organized several study visits and numerous events to regularly educate groups of visitors from universities and cities from within Germany, Europe and abroad. The partners of GrowSmarter got a first taste of that work, when they visited Cologne for our General Assembly over the summer.

Action Area 1: Low Energy Districts

During the General Assembly we took our partners on a tour to experience our work in Low Energy Districts for themselves. The scene was the GrowSmarter project area Mülheim (Stegerwaldsiedlung), where we have implemented a large-scale energy efficient refurbishment of 16 building blocks to lower their CO2 emissions and upgrade them for our citizens to live in. Noticeable results from this work done by our partners include an average CO2 reduction of 72% in the Stegerwaldsiedlung neighborhood.

Our partner, the German utility RheinEnergie, also installed photovoltaic cells on top of buildings in the neighbourhood, and is exploiting that energy to make the Stegerwaldsiedlung more self-sufficient. In order to achieve this, they implemented the so-called Siedlungsmanagement software which makes it possible to plan energy use in a much more efficient manner through the entire neighbourhood.


Action Area 2: Integrated infrastructures

Under the theme Integrated Infrastructures, we have focused on two different, albeit connected, approaches. On the ground in Cologne, on the so-called “Klimastraße”, which is part of the initiative ‘SmartCity Cologne’ where RheinEnergie tests innovative technologies, the company integrated three electric charging points electric vehicles in lampposts on the street. These three charging points have a yearly loading volume of 14.000 kWh and in one year of implementation they reduced the CO2 emmissions by ten tonnes compared to if the same transportation had been done in regular cars.

The second approach is related to Big Data and the work done by [ui!] - the urban institute with its open urban big data platform called ‘Urban Pulse’. The platform is able to store and process urban data in real-time in order integrate a wide range of different data and services used by Cologne (and other cities when the solution is replicated!). Data can be shared from different departments of a city administration as well as from different utilities or third parties with relevant data. The data platform gives a fast and easy overview of the current situation of the city. Different focal areas such as the environment or traffic can be considered. Three factsheets explaining the different use-cases of the Urban Pulse were recently made and you can find them online at the GrowSmarter website:

Action Area 3: Sustainable Urban Mobility

Finally, we showed our partners visiting from the rest of the GrowSmarter cities some of the implementations we have done to improve Urban mobility in Cologne as part of the project. A centrepiece of this work is the Mobility Stations. A mobility station offers multiple transport alternatives at one location. The mobility stations can vary in both size and type of location, and ten different stations were implemented in or near the neighbourhood of Mülheim. Some offer e-bike and e-car sharing, while others may offer public transportation in connection to parking and the availability of e-bikes.

In total, together with our partners, RheinEnergie, Cambio Cologne, KVB and Ampido, we have deployed 54 different e-vehicles in Cologne (cars and bikes) in the different mobility stations. As mentioned in earlier blogs, the process for signing up for an e-bike is simple. The costumer can sign up for free by using the homepage, by using the KVB or nextbike App or register on the phone by using the nextbike costumer hotline.


A Mobility Station at Stegerwaldsiedlung. Photo: KVB

Our partners from KVB and cambio have described their work with the Mobility Station in an independent blog Segment:

Mobility station, e-bikes and the new design guide - by the industrial partners KVB and cambio

Within the project of GrowSmarter, in particular for the mobility stations, all technical requirements e.g. the certifications of safety and quality of the products, have been completed. For the commission of the e-bikes a test called "Inbetriebnahmeprüfung" by the the German Technical Inspection Association was necessary. The KVB is the first company, who realized this test of an e-bike station in Germany.

Since the 8th of Februar all e-bikes are in use. Because of the many unauthorized returns of the e-bikes outside the mobililty stations, the KVB had to develop a new design for the e-bikes to ensure the customers understand the difference between an e-bike and a conventional bike. These difference refer to the pricing system and the regulations of returning and renting the e-bikes.

The Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Sieg developed a new design guide for the signature of mobility stations in Nord Rhine-Westfalia. Together with the city council of Cologne and cambio carsharing a new concept for the pedestrian signs between the light rail- and bus stations and the mobility stations had to be installed.

Furthermore there has been an enourmous sharing and discussion of information and experience especially for the members of WP4 during the general assemblies in Barcelona and Porto. In addition to the GA´s there has been a webinar concerning urban mobility which was presented by Tanya Bullmann (cambio CarSharing) and Thomas Bischof (KVB). There have also been many interviews regarding the GrowSmarter project and the development of smart mobility. These requests from students and universities have been answered from nearly all team members of WP 4.

New Design of Mobility Stations. Photo: cambio

In order to increase the use of the offered electric car-sharing, cambio started so called „E-Infoveranstaltungen“. These are best described as a meet & greet between cambio staff and customers or car-sharing interested people directly at the mobility stations during weekends. Every weekend, cambio met customers at a different station in order to explain the usage of the electric vehicles and lower the threshold for use. The meetings turned out to be very successful and each was visited by at least 15 up to 50 people. Customers were asking cambio staff questions and exchanged experiences. In the weeks after each current meeting we could see an increased use of e-vehicles at the mobility stations.

Julia Egenolf

Site Manager, Cologne

For the previous blog post, click here


13 March 2019

Cologne Blog #10 : Lessons learned on Open urban Platforms & mobility stations

The GrowSmarter partners in Cologne are very pleased that they can already say that the goals of saving energy in the Stegerwaldsettlement can be achieved. There is a realistic chance that the settlement will become self-sufficient in the energy sector. To achieve the Co2 emission savings goals however, further efforts must be made.

Integrated Infrastructure: Open urban Platforms as key component for integrated SmartCity infrastructures

The implementation phase has shown that the collection and processing of data from different areas is a very sensitive issue. It is often unclear to individuals and to the community how to deal with this issue. This resulted in a number of conclusions for the approach to data collection and compilation listed in detail in the GrowSmarter Concluding Report.

The conclusions are intended to simplify reaching a consensus for both data collectors and data owners in order to have a useable solution for all parties involved, also taking into account everyone’s rights and duties. The most important conclusion seems to be understanding the open questions on how to deal with data. What is the data’s value? What is the best way to use it? Is it possible to create a business model with the data? Is the outcome and the result of using free data a better business model or is it best to share all data for free to optimize the quality of life in a city?

We found out that the first step should be understanding how to best use the data, what to do with it as well as finding a win-win situation for all parties involved.  This means creating a so called „Use Case“:

1.    Defining concretely the desired result in advance; considering known possibilities, defining which data in which quality is needed, and by whom.

2.    Checking the financial conditions: which costs are incurred, regularly or punctually and how can they be covered? Creating a first Business Model.

3.    Clarifying the legal Framework: e.g. legal requirements related to the topic, keywords: enforceable stopping bans, data protection, trade tax exemption, certified smart meter, electricity grid regulation.

4.    Defining and clarifying technical framework conditions: which provider is used, do interfaces/prototypes already exist, is the WLAN network sufficient ? Which innovations in the near future do you have to consider?

5.    The biggest factor of all is: defining and clarifying the „human framework conditions”: Are the inhabitants of the desired area / or your customers open to this innovation?

These are only a few points of the overall conclusions. It clearly depends on the measure and the individual situation, but overall the most important conclusion is staying flexible and open to new findings and required adaptations - use foresight / look ahead!

Room Air monitoring: The GreenAir service

With GreenAir, Colognes project partner RheinEnergie AG offers a room air monitoring service for tenants and landlords.

Sensors will be installed in the apartments to measure temperature and humidity. The sensors have the size of a room thermostat and are not particularly noticeable. The data transmission is carried out using an innovative LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) wireless technology. Thanks to the long range, no gateway is required in the apartments and will be installed outside of the buildings.

The data is processed anonymously and made available to the tenants via an APP. GreenAir provides tenants with an air monitoring service and with reasonable ventilation and heating recommendations based on the monitoring. This will help prevent the formation of mold due to excessive humidity, lead to a better well-being and at the same time saves heating costs.

Particularly after renovation work, the humidity could rise to a critically high level in the apartments if the ventilation behaviour is not adapted. In order to support the tenants in this new situation, GreenAir offers an app for Andriod and iOS, on which the current temperature and humidity in the individual rooms is displayed, and ventilation and heating recommendations are made. Should the humidity rise above 60%, the tenant receives a push message with a ventilation recommendation. Equipped with the information aggregated in a dashboard, the landlord can supervise the condition in his buildings.

Our project partner [ui!] – the urban institute developed the technical infrastructures, the backend components and the apps for the tenants, the landlords and the technicians, who install the sensors in the flats.

Figure 1: GreenAir views for the tenants

This pictures shows two views for the tenants. The left view provides information about temperature and humidity inside the rooms and outside the building. The right view provides the recommendations what the tenants should do to improve the situation inside. At present the user interface is in German only.

Standardization Activities GrowSmarters steering group decided to put a stronger focus on standardization activities in order to ease replication and roll-out of project results to other cities. Cologne considers standardization efforts as important as well and has welcomed this decision. Together with City and industrial partners, Cologne already developed one standard during GrowSmarter, see the blog entry from June 2018[1], and the development of another one has been started in 2018. [ui!] – the urban institute is coordinating the development of the new standard “DIN SPEC 91367 Urban mobility data collection for real-time applications”. The standardisation committee consists again of cities and industrial partners and the standard will probably be available for a download free of charge at in March.

GrowSmarter’s Opens mobility stations

Within GrowSmarter, the first mobility stations with all partners (RheinEnergie, KVB, Cambio and Ampido) and the combination of e-bikes and e-cars started in the district of Cologne Mülheim. Until this point there was a lot of work to do because of the complicated civil work and the cable laying. Another important fact was the installation of a switch cabinet just for the implementation of the e-bikes next to the stations. This was needed as the power units for the e-bikes don’t fit into the RheinEnergie switch cabinet. Nevertheless the whole project team did a lot of public relation (e.g. tenant events) especially near the mobility station at the Stegerwaldsiedlung.

The process for signing up for an e-bike is similar to the process for conventional bikes. The costumer can sign up for free by using the homepage, by using the KVB or nextbike App or register on the phone by using the nextbike costumer hotline.

After the registration and the confirming of a payment method, the costumer can rent and return the e-bikes at any of these stations mentioned above. Enough charging spots are available. The fee for renting an e-bike is 3 € for 30 minutes and 19 € for the whole day. The average distance of the e-bike is 45 km. If the costumer is an owner of the so called mobility card and uses a subscription (e.g. Job-Ticket or Mobile Pass), he can use the conventional bikes 30 minutes for free in the free-float-system. This free-float-system KVB-Rad is very popular in Cologne and covers more than 84 square kilometers on both sides of the Rhine River. To date there are more than 90.000 registered users who drove over 2,2 million kilometers in the past three years.


Barbara Moehlendick

Site Manager, Cologne

For the previous blog post, click here

29 June 2018

Cologne Blog #9: Making the smart city available - Smart home systems and Open Urban platforms

Our smart district is producing a lot of information. Our “SmartHome GrowSmarter” research study for example will look at the feedback that the volunteer tenants will give from the use of Smart systems in their energetically renovated houses. Open Urban Platforms such as the one developed in GrowSmarter, including our Urban cockpit, is becoming a reference for smart cities. 


Action Area 2 - Low Energy Districts: SmartHome Systems in the Stegerwaldsiedlung

RheinEnergie found a manufacturer (homee) who is going to equip the Smart Home system with an interface that enables AGT to collect and measure the required data. The aim of the study is to investigate the impact of Smart Home systems on users' quality of life and potential energy savings.

Every tenant who lives in one of the 16 energetically renovated houses can apply to participate in the “SmartHome GrowSmarter” research study. RheinEnergie offers to install up to 50 free systems. Participants will receive a SmartHome system worth approx. 1.000€ (including installation) which they can keep after the end of the study.participants must agree to share their experiences in surveys which will be sent out at least quarterly.  The data will be evaluated anonymously and confidentially by the technical university of Cologne (TH Köln).

With the SmartHome system provided, tenants have an open system that can combine different radio protocols and components from many different manufacturers to set up individual SmartHome systems. The research study decided to use the radio protocol Z-Wave. The tenants received the homee base cube, the Z-Wave radio cube and various matching components, such as the smart heating thermostat, window and door sensors and smart plugs to measure the electricity consumption. The base cube collects information, processes it and stores it locally. It acts as the central control over the smart components. A Wi-Fi connection allows the control of the connected devices via smartphone or PC. To connect more sensors or actors you can add more cubes to the brain cube which support other Smart Home radio protocols like Z-Wave, Zigbee or EnOcean.

The Smart Home system allows a comfortable control of lights, heating, etc. via Smartphone from any room. You can, for example, check that all windows are closed while being away from home.

At both informational events on March 24th 2018 and on May 17th 2018, the project partners RheinEnergie (with the TH Köln) and AGT had a display wall to explain the system and the extra components to the tenants and show them its advantages.

Photo: The home base cube (white) and the Z-Wave radio protocol cube (purple) and demonstration wall

Action Area 3 - Integrated Infrastructure: Open urban Platforms as key component for integrated SmartCity infrastructures

The European Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC) exists since 2013 and now has more than 5,000 affiliates in over 31 countries. The EIP-SCC discusses central questions of the Smart Spatial Development. A central finding of the Cluster “Integrated Infrastructures & Processes”[1] is the need for open urban platforms prerequisite for the rapid implementation of intelligent solutions in the cities that can be used by the various actors in a city. The first step in this direction has been made by the Urban Platforms initiative, which comprises three areas: the demand side, which is mainly represented by cities, the supplier side, and the standardization.

With a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) “Towards Open Urban Platforms for Smart Cities and Communities”, the initiative aims to provide broad support from the industry for the implementation of open solutions. Currently, 44 companies from the industry have signed the memorandum. On the demand side, a declaration of intent has been signed by the 24 cities and two city networks, which will help to develop the core requirements for open, urban platforms.

[ui!]UrbanPulse is one of the first urban platforms that has been aligned to the reference architecture of the MoU and thus the open urban data platform of Cologne according to GrowSmarter's “Integrated Infrastructure” measure “8.1 Big consolidated open data platform” conforms to the reference architecture.

DIN SPEC Open Urban Platform (OUP) The German standards organization DIN has picked up the activities of the Action Cluster Integrated Infrastructure and Processes on the MoU and developed an “Open Urban Platform” with a regional consortium consisting of members from cities, operators, vendors, and academia the DIN SPEC 91357[1]. The reference architecture of the MoU has served as a sound base as depicted in the figure below. Both core partners of WP3 in Cologne, the City of Cologne and [ui!], were members of the DIN SPEC team and provided strategic guidance. As consortium leader, [ui!] orchestrated input also from other members working in SCC01 projects such as Triangulum, Smarter Together and mySMARTLife.  


MoU Reference graphic

Urban COCKPIT The GrowSmarter Cologne Urban COCKPIT is a solution developed on top of the open urban platform and is based on the [ui!] COCKPIT. It is designed to support analytics of real time data. By integrating, processing and visualizing data, a proof of concept can be done proving that the data is really available and in good quality. This is an important step for using and offering the data for value added services.

The WebAPP has been developed for GrowSmarter to provide insight in the different measures implemented in Cologne. It gives decision makers an easily understandable overview of the current and historical state of the pilot implementation. This includes traffic and parking loads, parking situations, energy consumption and production and mobility stations. All data is provided by the infrastructures and does not include personal data. It will be used to understand which data is available, at which quality in a human understandable way. It serves therefore also as a communication tool with other departments within the City administration as well as with external parties.

Urban cockpit main view and map view

The indicator on the left side of the Urban COCKPIT main page is pulsing and gives information of the current “pulse” of the city. In case of large traffic loads, much pollution, bad parking situations, high amount of non-regenerative energy consumption, etc. the pulse is very high which indicates the city suffers from “stress”. On the right side, different tiles or certain Smart City indicators are arranged. The timeline on the bottom of the cockpit can be used to see historical states of the city.

Federation of Open Urban PlatformsWithin the DIN SPEC 91357 and in alignment to the MoU, the federation of open urban platforms has been addressed. A federation allows different urban data platforms to exchange data in a transparent way thus that smart services in any given city can benefit from data sources even outside of the city as well as deploying smart services into other cities.

The below figure provides a schematic view of such a federation depicted from the DIN SPEC 91357.

User scenario

Let’s assume, a start-up from Cologne would like to develop a mobile application that enables the multi-modal routing and integrated usage of public transport, electric mobility and different energy infrastructure elements (e.g. charging stations) across Germany. Therefore, the start-up obtains relevant data regarding the current city from the related Open Urban Platform via an Open Data Portal (e.g. To extend their service to other cities in Germany the start-up uses the GovData.De portal and its data-catalog to lookup for Open Urban Platforms of other cities providing equivalent datasets and services required by their mobile application. The available information from the Open Data Portals and their corresponding Open Urban Platforms of Hamburg and Cologne has been harvested by integrating their data catalogs. This way the mobile application can transparently provide services both in Cologne and Hamburg, instead of having two APPs, e.g. one for each city. Given a user opens the mobile application in Cologne to plan a journey to Hamburg. The mobile application should provide the most convenient combination of transportation means concerning the traffic situation and public transport options and availability of charging stations.”

Our vision is therefore to connect the urban platforms within GrowSmarter across the three GrowSmarter lighthouse cities Stockholm, Cologne and Barcelona and if applicable between lighthouse cities and follower cities. This way, we allow for more smart services to be developed and thus creating an even larger ecosystem adhering to our ambitious goal of prosperity and growth.


Barbara Moehlendick

Site Manager, Cologne

For the previous blog post, click here

23 February 2018

Cologne Blog #8: Exchanging with tenants and sharing Cologne's experiences

With construction nearly completed in Stegerwaldsiedlung, we held an informational event with tenants in the newly renovated buildings and area. We've also been actively participating in a number of international events, sharing the experiences of the GrowSmarter project in Cologne with interested parties from all around Europe and the world.

GrowSmarter dissemination

Informational event for the Stegerwaldsiedlung tenants

As the construction work in the project site area Stegerwaldsiedlung is almost complete, the project management and partners believed that it was time to hold an informational event for the neighbourhood tenants to inform about the process and foster acceptance. As the tenants stayed in their apartments during construction time, burdens such as long road closures, lack of parking spaces, construction noise, etc. had to be endured.

The City of Cologne together with the project partners invited the Stegerwaldsiedlung tenants to an informational event on November 7th, 2017. The invitations were distributed to all households in the project area and were available in all social insti-tutions.

Poster announcing event

Informational event for the tenants. Photo: Uta Konopka

The aim of the informational event was to inform the tenants about the measures and the current state of the implementation, and to report on the perspectives that arise for the entire district of Mülheim. The event was supported by an external moderator and facilitated by the Community Reporter group (a group was founded to teach professional video shooting and then accompany projects they choose in Co-logne). More than 100 tenants attended the event.

Informational event for the tenants. Photo: Uta Konopka

The project management welcomed the attendees, explained the project goals, pre-sented the status of the implementation and pointed out the perspective until the end of the project and beyond. Most importantly, the team explained the benefits of the project for the tenants. Two City of Cologne employees (City Strategic Planning and Urban Development) reported on how the district of Mülheim will develop in the areas of local supply, mobility and construction. The tenants were invited to ask questions and express their wishes. Many questions asked were related to the status of the construction site, new heating system, the parking situation and how high future rents will be.

As a result of this meeting, the City together with the partners will send a letter summarising the event’s results. DEWOG already sent a detailed letter explaining the new heating system and the energy cost saving potential. At the end of the event, the tenants had the opportunity to get to know each other personally. The Community Reporters produced a video showing the event and subsequent interviews with some of the participants. You can view the video here (in German):

The next tenant informational event is planned for May 2018.

Study visit at the World Climate Conference COP 23

The World Climate Change Conference took place in Bonn from November 6 to 17. For more information please visit the official website.

COP23 provided an extensive framework program surrounding the main programme for the conference participants. The aim of this programme was to show the participants as many projects as possible in the field of local climate protection activities. Within this context, the GrowSmarter project partners offered a study visit to the Stegerwaldsiedlung. The The study visit, which took place on 13 November, was announced in a press release as well as in the COP23 event programme, which all attendees received.

Informational event for the tenants. Photo> Uta Konopka

The GrowSmarter team conducted the study visit at the Stegerwaldsiedlung in both German and English. 26 people participated in the study visit. The project management team explained the overarching GrowSmarter goals and the efforts in all three lighthouse cities. The local work-package leaders presented Cologne’s measures in energy, mobility and integrated infrastructure. During the neighbourhood tour, the participants were able to see the implementation of the measures first hand.

Study visit COP 23. Photo: Uta Konopka

The solutions related to energy retrofitting, energy management with the control of neighbourhood management and the mobility stations were of particular interest. Many questions came up, including which measures were particularly effective, the prospects for transferring the measures to other cities and how residents are in-volved. Participants were keen to continue the dialogue and to be kept informed about the project.

GrowSmarter at THERMOS conference in Brussels

This event took place at the Permanent Representation of Romania in Brussels on January 25th, 2018. It addressed the question of making integrated heating and cooling systems part of the backbone of Smart Cities and Communities, including concepts on local, open and affordable energy transition by providing state-of-the-art planning tools, solutions and insights.

Cologne was invited to speak on a panel, providing the city’s perspective on thermal optimisation and refurbishment in the framework of CELSIUS and GrowSmarter.

THERMOS conference. Photo: Julia Egenolf

THERMOS conference. Photo: ICLEI

GrowSmarter at the SmartCity Replication Workshop in Brussels

The SCC replication workshop titled ”Learning from the successful” took place in Brussels on January 26th, 2018 and focused on the question of how Lighthouse city Smart Solutions can be replicated in Follower Cities. How can stumbling blocks be overcome in order to achieve replication possibilities of Horizon 2020 projects and their solutions for Follower Cities? Three workshops, each held twice, were divided into 4-5 roundtables for the topics of energy, integrated infrastructure and mobility. The event saw more than 100 participants in the moderated workshops. Cologne moderated the mobility roundtable, and car-sharer provider Cambio gave information on setting up mobility stations, as has been done in Cologne. Cologne’s energy provider, RheinEnergie, participated in the roundtable on virtual power plants/energy management systems, including storage. Each roundtable discussion was facilitated by a moderator who introduced presenters from industrial and city partners. The sessions started with a presentation touching on the planning, implementation, technical evaluation, business model and the replication possibilities of specific solutions. The participants then had 40 minutes to discuss barriers and possibilities to replicate.

At the end of the workshops, the moderators summarised the key success factors and how to overcome the main obstacles.

SCC replication workshop. Photo: Julia Egenolf

Action Area 1: Low-Energy Districts

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here

The first construction phase has been completed and the evaluation began in January 2018, as planned. The remaining construction phases are scheduled to be completed by March 2018, after which their evaluation phase will also begin.

Both RheinEnergie AG and AGT international will send informational letters to all Stegerwaldsiedlung tenants until March and inform them about the possibility to have the Smart Home system installed for free. This will be done in up to 50 homes. If there are more interested tenants than expected, RheinEnergie will have to assign them by lot.

RheinEnergie AG was able to find a manufacturer who was prepared to equip its smart home system with an interface that enables AGT to collect and measure the required data (WP3). The system will be presented and demonstrated to the tenants in a workshop, where they can learn how to operate it in person and understand the advantages of the system. We intend to cover the first experiences with the system our the next blog update.

Action area 2: Integrated Infrastructures

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here

RheinEnergie was able to install three electric charging stations on existing street lighting poles. An existing WiFi grid connection hotspot is already in place at these locations.

Photo: RheinEnergie AG

The community driven project ”OpenAir Cologne” has made progress; in the past months, the website has been editorially revised and the project was presented at several different events.

OpenAir Cologne is a joint project of the Oklab Cologne, the City of Cologne, the TH (University of applied Sciences), the University of Cologne and the For-schungszentrum Jülich (research center). The project focuses on generating data, especially measurements of fine particulate matter, through environmental sensors. This project is the outcome of an idea from citizens, supported by science based institutions and initiated by the City of Cologne.

Data fine dust collected from environmental sensors. Photo: City of Cologne

The overall idea came about via “Citizen Science”, in which citizens and their ideas and perspectives are actively involved in governmental tasks. The objective is to connect citizens with their local public administration and to accelerate cooperation between the government and the inhabitants in the areas of Open Data, participation and citizen information. The greater purpose in this context is to enable an actual collaboration between citizens and the government.

The project is being implemented by collecting sensor data from volunteers and processing them for the community as Open Data, as well as to open them for discussion and to review their informational value. The goal is that the sensors will allow coverage of a large area in order to generate as much reliable information as possible. To support the project, the city offers different types of workshops, from soldering to understanding weather forecasts.

Given the current situation, OpenAir Cologne was able to set up 50 environmental sensors in the urban area of Cologne. Most importantly, it was possible to raise awareness and interest for the environment and to disseminate environmental topics amongst the public.

Model OpenAir Node Sensor Copyright City of Cologne

Action area 3: Sustainable Urban Mobility

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here

All ten planned mobility stations are now in place, in various sizes and with various combinations of partners. Three mobility stations will be equipped with e-bikes this month and next. Photos of the individual stations can also be found in our previous blog post.

Overview of Mobility Stations and partners involved

After overcoming some legal stumbling blocks for ampido locations in public spaces, the team has now been able to integrate this partner with the inclusion of some spe-cial clauses in the law. Ampido is equipping the Mobility Stations with parking spac-es that can be booked in advance. This system has so far only worked on private land and is now possible on public lands for the duration of the project or until city ordinances change. Ampido is represented at the Mobility Stations found in the map above. Some of the stations have already been shown in previous blogs. These photos show only ampido’s spaces, as they are the most recent additions.

Wiener Platz, right in the center of Mülheim at the “Stadthalle”, 5 parking spaces:

Jan-Wellem-Str, Copyright Ampido

Bergischer Ring, directly opposite the district town hall Mülheim, 2 parking spaces:

Bergischer Ring, Copyright Ampido

Bahnhof Mülheim, Montanusstrasse, close to the Mülheim train station, 2 parking spaces:

Montanusstrasse, Copyright Ampido

Mobilitystation Stegerwald neighborhood, 2 parking spaces:

Stegerwald neighborhood, Copyright Ampido

The mobility card: “MultiTicket”

The mobility partners in the project are convinced that better utilisation of Mobility Stations depends on their attractiveness. cambio CarSharing and KVB have there-fore developed a combined mobility card: the “MultiTicket”. With the MultiTicket all means of transport (bus, tram, car- and bike-sharing) can be used. It is a further de-velopment of the existing "JobTicket", a monthly ticket paid for by companies for their employees. All JobTicket users are now able to register with cambio in order to use their car-sharing cars. The cars themselves can be opened with the MultiTicket - no further card is needed. In addition to public transport, all MultiTicket users get a dis-count of 10% for car-sharing.

The MultiTicket, which became available in October 2017, offers virtual consolidation by bringing the various modes of transport to one place, which the Mobility Sta-tion does physically.


The introduction of the MultiTicket has not yet been promoted with a major press and advertising campaign. Still, the offer was very well received - almost 500 people have registered already, almost one third of the overall new cambio customers since October 2017. The use of the new Mobility Stations in the Mülheim project area has also increased. In the near future, further advertisement of the MultiTicket is planned in order to gain more customers and to make the Mobility Stations even more successful.

An example of the cambio CarSharing flyer advertisement can be seen below:

Advertising flyer page 1

Advertising flyer page 2

Discussed in this blog

Solution 1: Efficient and smart climate shell refurbishment

Solution 3: Smart energy-saving tenants

Solution 4: Smart local electricity management

Solution 11: Alternative fuel-driven vehicles

Solution 12: Smart mobility solutions

Barbara Moehlendick

Site Manager, Cologne

For the previous blog post, click here

12 October 2017

Cologne blog #7: The Day of Good Life

With the first phase of construction completed in the Stegerwaldsiedlung, all that remains to do is to connect the Siedlungsmanagement software. In the world of data, we are also working with a broad range of Cologne's open data to integrate into the urban cockpit. Lastly, our mobility stations - featuring carsharing and electric vehicle charging - are operational. Read on for more details and pictures!

GrowSmarter on the “Tag des guten Lebens/ Day of Good Life”

The “Day of Good Life” is a family and neighbourhood festival for the entire district of Deutz, just south of our project area Mülheim. To show how a district can evolve, thirty streets in Deutz and the Deutzer Bridge across the river Rhine were closed to traffic. On Sunday, 18 June approximately 150,000 visitors came to the Day of Good Life event, a visitor record. All activities had the aim of testing a joint venture on how life in Deutz could be made sustainable and future-oriented over the coming decades. At the GrowSmarter booth, visitors were particularly interested in alternative mobility solutions. The industry partner Cambio CarSharing offered free registration, an attractive that offer was taken advantage of by 37 people.

The “Day of Good Life” event in Deutz


Students and instructors from three foreign universities would soon like to visit Cologne for a knowledge exchange. The representatives from the University of Barcelona know the GrowSmarter activities in their own city and would like to see how Cologne is implementing their measures. Students at the University of Basel are very interested in learning more about the development of open data platforms.

Exchange of experts with a delegation from China
Study Visit on July 6, 2017

The German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and the Republic of China have reached an agreement on environmental cooperation. China is interested in implementing the objectives of the Paris Climate Protection Agreement. The representatives of the provinces and municipalities are important players in this process of change. The “Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit” (GIZ) (Association for International Cooperation) organises regular exchange programs with the support of the German Ministry of the Environment. The aim of the program is the acquisition of new knowledge and the exchange with experts, as well as the deepening of old contacts and the establishment of new contacts for the purpose of the cooperation between North Rhine-Westfalia and China. The focus of the trade exchange and the partner province representatives from Sichuan, Shanxi and Jiangsu was “Emission Control, Air Pollution and Renewable Energies". The representatives were keen on understanding more about GrowSmarter energy measures with the aim to examine which of the measures could be implemented and replicated in China. The delegation was made up of company officials and municipal representatives as well as the regional NRW government guests.

Welcome and presentation in the Stegerwald settlement office

The project was presented to the visitors in the Stegerwald neighbourhood office. The project`s integrated approach was new to the visitors. This aspect was of paramount importance to representatives of municipalities in order to achieve sustainable city planning. RheinEnergie presented its energy management measures.

Presentation of Demonstration Buildings before and after refurbishment

During the tour of the settlement, the participants visited the facilities and were able to ask technical questions.

Particularly interesting for the engineers was the new “Siedlungsmanagement” software (virtual power plant). The approach of saving as much energy as possible in a building as well as implementing intelligent control for a larger number of buildings will be examined by some representatives for their projects in China. There was mutual interest in pursuing this knowledge exchange in the future.

SmartCity conference in Esch-sur-Alzette

In mid-September, Cologne had the chance to present GrowSmarter at the SmartCity conference in its twin city, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxemburg. Esch-sur-Alzette is planning to develop models for the cross-border region with Belgium and France.

The Cologne process of choosing the data platform and urban cockpit was of particular interest for Esch-sur-Alzette. The city is planning to implement a uniform digitalisation strategy for the entire region. Everyone was convinced that a smart city can only be realised with an integrated approach.

Action area 1: Low-Energy Districts

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here

The first construction phase In the Stegerwaldsiedlung section is completed with the exception of final connection work to the Siedlungsmanagement. Phases 2 and 3 have started construction as well. This City of Cologne website shows an interactive map (in German) of the current planned and/or implemented scope of work on each of the buildings.

First (foreground) and second (background) phase of construction at the Stegerwaldsiedlung

The heat pumps have been connected by the RheinEnergie. The first battery storage sets are also installed.

Air heat pumps at the Stegerwaldsiedlung

The RheinEnergie is planning to conduct an informational event for the tenants in November and December to further present and explain the RheinEnergie products Mieterstrom and SmartHome. Tenants who agree to install the SmartMeter equipment will also receive Smart Home.

Action area 2: Integrated Infrastructures

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.

We have made great progress in this area convincing partners that sharing their data for GrowSmarter will be beneficial for all.

In August of 2016 we reported about the Cologne open data platform ( This was in place before GrowSmarter, but it offers a comprehensive database, which can be used for the project.

Some very interesting records of the KVB could be included in the open data platform ( It becomes evident that data from our partner KVB is not only a benefit for GrowSmarter but the entire open data community.

For example, errors or failures in the escalators and lifts at the railway stations can be called up in real time. With these data, it is possible to individually define an accessible, personalised route before starting a journey. The data can also be used to ensure that the departure from a platform is possible without complications during the journey. The use of railway is therefore more attractive for people with limited mobility or mothers with baby carriages, for example. We have thus taken another step towards stimulating the population in rethinking their choice of transport.

For the individual data sets we distinguish between dynamic and static data; this is dynamic data:

Our partner [ui!] - the urban institute is now working on integrating multiple data streams into the urban cockpit.

Cambio CarSharing and KVB Bike

Action area 3: Sustainable Urban Mobility

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.

Almost all mobility stations are now fully operational. The mobility stations are easily accessible by foot, bus and/or train. The first experiences show that the stations are accepted among transport users.

With the exception of one station, the RheinEnergie charging stations are implemented. All charging stations have two charging points. All stations also include a Cambio CarSharing station. The industrial partner KVB was able to find a suitable partner for the E-bikes procurement, and by the end of the year 10 e-bikes are planned to be implemented. They will be installed at the sites Charles de Gaulle Platz, Mülheim train station and the Stegerwaldsiedlung. Ampido is represented at two of the three main mobility stations so far.

The current situation at each of the stations is presented below:

Charles-de-Gaulle Platz

The Charles-de-Gaulle Platz provides 5 spaces for CarSharing cars (3 conventional cars, 2 e-cars), 12 bikes (7 conventional, 5 e-bikes), 4 Ampido parking spaces and 4 charging stations. This location also provides a public charging station with two charging points for the general public.

Charles-de-Gaulle Platz carsharing, charging stations, parking sharing and bikes

In 2015, the conversation between the City of Cologne and the state legislation regarding unified coordinated signage for the mobility stations thorughout the state started to take shape. This development is unique and has influenced the region’s cities and communities in using the same language of signage in their development of mobility stations.

Charles-de-Gaulle Platz mobility station signage

Train station Bahnhof Mülheim

Fully equipped, this station has 5 carsharing spaces (3 conventional, 2 e-cars), 2 charging stations, 15 Bikes (10 conventional, 5 e-bikes).

Bahnhof Mülheim carsharing and charging stations


At this station 4 carsharing spaces (2 conventional cars, 2 e-cars) and 1 charging station are in operation.

Regentenstrasse CarSharing and charging station


At the Stegerwaldsiedlung mobility station, where all GrowSmarter energy measures are implemented, 4 carsharing spaces (2 conventional cars, 2 e-cars) and 2 charging stations are already in place. Two Ampido parking spaces and 8 bikes (4 conventional, 4 e-bikes) will be located here by the end of 2017.

Stegerwaldsiedlung carsharing and charging station


At this location residents can use 4 carsharing cars (2 conventional cars, 2 e-cars) and 1 charging station.

Von-Sparr-Str. carsharing and charging station

Höhenhaus, Am Emberg

Six spaces for carsharing cars (4 conventional cars, 2 e-cars) are located at this site. Whether a charging station can be installed is currently under investigation.

Höhenhaus, Am Emberg carsharing spaces

The industrial partners KVB and Cambio are expecting a much greater use of the mobility stations after the introduction of the mobility card.

Users of public transport must have the possibility to use bus, tram (lightrail), bicycles and passenger cars with one ticket. Cambio and KVB are currently developing a so called “Mobiltätskarte (Mobilticket)”, an enhancement of the already existing subscription ticket. With this “Mobiltätskarte” travellers will be able to use bus, trams, bicycles and carsharing cars with their normal ticket.

e-Ticket as demonstration object on a Cambio carsharing car

Discussed in this blog

Solution 1: Efficient and smart climate shell refurbishment

Solution 3: Smart energy-saving tenants

Solution 4: Smart local electricity management

Solution 11: Alternative fuel-driven vehicles

Solution 12: Smart mobility solutions

Barbara Moehlendick

Site Manager, Cologne

For the previous blog post, click here

8 June 2017

Cologne blog #6: CeBIT and Study Visit in Cologne

Action area 1: Low-Energy Districts
To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.

The CeBIT - Global Event for Digital Business - is the largest trade fair in Europe. From 20 – 24 March 2017 GrowSmarter partners from Cologne present the project at a joint stand together with Lighthouse City projects from Munich and Hamburg (Smarter Together and mySMARTLife). For the fair, the three cities prepared a joint appearance.

Click here for more information about the presentation.

The overview of projects, focuses and targets presented at the event was very well received by visitors. A presentation of the GrowSmarter ran in a loop at the stand. The booth was always surrounded by interested visitors, especially by industry and cities representatives. Many companies see that the approaches developed in the project can generate promising business models. Inquiries also came from representatives from other cities who want to shape sustainable urban development based on the experience of the projects presented. After CeBIT, 12 companies and 3 cities agreed on meeting dates for further exchange of experience. The successful joint appearance of Cologne, Munich and Hamburg will mean that the three cities will again be exhibited together at trade fairs in the future.

GrowSmarter Study Visit Cologne
The GrowSmarter Study Visit was a two-day event, including the SmartCity Cologne Conference on 26 April and the on-site visit at the Stegerwaldsiedlung on 27 April.

Dr. Rau (Deputy Major for Social Affairs, Integration and Environmental Affairs) welcomed the Study Visit participants in Cologne on 26th April. He gave a short introduction and overview of Cologne’s current situation in areas such as environment, demography, economy and mobility. Cologne is an important economic and cultural center in Germany, which is currently facing a dynamic growth period: its economy is thriving and its population has just surpassed one million. Therefore, Cologne faces large challenges in terms of growing mobility problems, lack of qualified workforce and increasing energy use, to name a few. Dr. Rau pointed out that extremely high traffic loads (Cologne is the city with the most traffic jams in Germany) have brought about a strategy of change in the direction of more sustainable urban development. The GrowSmarter project and the solutions found therein are testing grounds that could lead to implementation across Cologne.

Following Dr. Rau’s introduction, Dr. Barbara Möhlendick gave an overview of the Smart City Cologne initiative and projects as well as how the GrowSmarter project came to be in Cologne. Julia Egenolf presented the planned measures in GrowSmarter and the current state of their implementation.

The subsequent SmartCity conference: Köln - mobil 2025+ introduced a variety of alternative mobility concepts. Sven Plöger (German TV weatherman and keynote speaker) delivered a fascinating speech about the mechanisms and consequences of climate change related to global and local events, including the City of Cologne. The reduction of CO2 is of utmost importance and the contributions from the Cologne SmartCity projects’ energy-saving solutions, such as the GrowSmarter project, are of immense important.

Start-up entrepreneurs were also at the conference, showing how successful business models have emerged from alternative transport concepts.

At the GrowSmarter booth, Cologne showed the GrowSmarter mobility measures on a touch screen as well as an overview of all Horizon 2020 SmartCity projects since 2015. Visitors were invited to use the interactive touchscreen to learn about the individual measures in Cologne, Stockholm and Barcelona as well as the other projects, such as Triangulum, Remourban, etc.

GrowSmarter touch screen at SmartCity Cologne Conference on 26 April 2017

Day 2
On 27 April, participants toured the Stegerwaldsiedlung, where they could see energy refurbishment and alternative mobility measures implemented through GrowSmarter.

GrowSmarter study visitors at the Stegerwaldcafe, Cologne

An important outcome of the discussion with the GrowSmarter partners was the fact that solutions can only be implemented if city and industry partners cooperate closely and strive for a win-win situation. It was also clear that the success of the measures depended greatly upon clear compliance with legal frameworks.

The concept of the mobility stations – multi-modal transport hubs – was well received by participants, and several cities were interested in implementing similar stations.

The intensive exchange on the data platform led to planning of further discussions and meetings. The acquisition of data and the goal of providing as much data as possible to the citizens openly and free of charge were seen as a major challenge.

The visits to the Stegerwaldsiedlung as well as the computer centre successfully showed that complex energy-efficient solutions can be implemented within existing buildings in smart ways.

Participants positively evaluated the usefulness of the Study Visit, answering either “good” or “excellent”.

Action area 1: Low-Energy Districts
To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.

On 27 April 2017, RheinEnergie presented the current state of implementation of the measures in WP2 (Low Energy Districts) and set up a pavilion in front of the first completed buildings.

Presentation during study visit


The refurbishment of the first construction phase was completed by DEWOG. The second construction phase is in progress.

Finished buildings
Refurbishment in progress

The settlement was connected to the district heating grid and the buildings from the first construction phase have been using district heating since December 2016. The installation of heat pumps and battery storage for the first construction phase will start in May 2017.

During a tour around the settlement and in the basement, we presented the current state of the project and share our experiences gained from implementing the solutions.

District heating station

PV on the roof tops

Model of the housing for the battery storages

Furthermore, the energy management software, the “Siedlungsmanagement”, was explained in detail, including the forecasting and optimisation modules. The software is still in development, as not all of the devices that it will manage have been installed or connected yet. The system will learn from past events and self-regulate to optimise energy flow.

Structure Siedlungsmanagement

Smart Home
At the End of the presentation, the Smart Home System from RheinEnergie was presented along with a demonstration.

Dashboard of the Smart Home System

Smart Home System

Action area 2: Integrated Infrastructures
To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.

The evening Hackathon event on 27 April demonstrated the building and use of cost-effective environmental sensors. As all cities admitted having issues producing good-quality environmental data at acceptable costs, this was an especially relevant topic. The more citizens that use environmental sensors, the more they can help improve the city's measures for reducing air pollution.

It Cologne’s Smart City Solutions were very interesting for many other cities, who have now started developing own concepts for similar solutions, such as Nürnberg or Porto. The study visit was a good opportunity to share knowledge, findings and experiences and to get closer in touch with each other in order to transfer knowledge and results. For example, Cologne and [ui!] now have a better understanding of what the follower city Porto needs and what results might be easily transferable from Cologne to Porto.

Action area 3: Sustainable Urban Mobility
To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.

First Mobility Station Charles-de-Gaulle Square
On 27 April 2017, participants visited the mobility station “Charles-de-Gaulle Platz near the Deutz Train Station, a multi-modal transport hub that brings together various modes of public and private transport.

Together with the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the city of Cologne has designed signage to identify the mobility station and the transport options available there. It’s also planned to install a mobility station sign inside the train station, which is currently under negotiation with Deutsche Bahn AG.

Front site Charles-de-Gaulle Platz
Front site Charles-de-Gaulle Platz, view to train station in background

The station for (e-) bike sharing is expected to be built in the fourth quarter of 2017. The intended location is between the ampido station and the public charging points. Until now, KVB-AG has already been operating a conventional bicycle rental system.

KVB-Bike started in May 2015 as a free float system. Today there are nearly 1,500 bikes in circulation across an area of 84 km2. It is integrated in the public transport systemof Cologne and the surrounding area.

But what does “integrated” really mean? Regular public transportation customers receive annual passes as an e-Ticket on a smartcard and soon on a smartphone too. Over 600,000 people are now e-Ticket holders. With that e-Ticket, customers get access to public transportation, KVB-Bike and probably in autumn to CambioCarsharing. This means that with one e-Ticket, they receive access to many different vehicles. In the case of KVB-Bike, customers can register for the service directly at the bike by holding their e-Ticket on a card-reader attached to the bike. After providing a mobile phone number and accepting the terms and conditions, a 6-digit PIN is sent via SMS and the bike lock opens automatically. Once successfully registered, customers are able to rent a bike via eTicket + PIN, phone number + PIN, or a smartphone app.

In June 2016, KVB started construction and implementation of 100 bike sharing stations, mostly at tram and mobility stations. The system will now be operated as a mixed system, with free-float bikes as well as a fixed station, and offering conventional bikes as well as e-Bikes. Especially with e-bikes, KVB faces some challenges: today e-bikes are still not really suitable for public bike sharing systems due to cost and vulnerability to vandalism and theft. Requirements for public E-Bikesharing system are:

  • Solid and reliable e-bikes in operation

  • Cheap in procurement and maintenance

  • Easy access just like a standard bike (no enclosures)

  • Mixed operation with standard bikes

  • Operating mode: free-float and station-based

  • Year-round operation

A KVB e-bike is still in the development phase, with a prototype to become available in 2017.

The first e-bus project started in 2014. KVB AG ordered eight articulated, full-electric buses. Because of the high additional costs compared to a diesel bus, KVB needed financial assistance. The total contribution for the project was € 1.92 million. There are two interfaces for charging the vehicles. The first one is the pantograph; it is placed on the roof of the vehicle and is used for fast charging with 240 kW at both end points of the bus route. The second charging interface is designed for slow charging at the depot via cable and CCS connectors with 50 kW charging power. We needed to make some adjustments at the workshop for the electric buses. For example we needed a frame for working on the roofs of the buses, insulated tools, personal protective equipment, and an overhead crane.

The company Cambio is currently operating a car sharing scheme on Charles de Gaulle square with a total of 5 parking spaces. The charging infrastructure allows Cambio to operate a total of three electric vehicles and two conventional vehicles at this location.

Cambio explained the registration process for car sharing during the study visit. It was particularly interesting for the participants to learn how quickly one can use vehicles after registration. Tanya Bullmann gave a brief overview of the future planned online validation possibilities via camera, followed by a demonstration of how easily and comfortably the vehicles can be booked and borrowed. Participants were particularly curious about the networking possibilities with other forms of mobility. Cambio explained the concept of the mobile ticket planned together with KVB for 2017. This idea was received very positively by the participants. Following the presentation of the electric vehicles, RheinEnergie presented the corresponding charging technology for the e-vehicles.

Online parking space management
Ampido currently operates its online parking management system all across town at many privately owned parking spaces. For the duration of the GrowSmarter project, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia allowed ampido to introduce its system at three mobility station locations on public land, so far with a total of five parking spaces.

In their presentation, ampido noted that the pilot project reduces CO2, reduces time spent searching for parking spaces, and can even lower parking prices. By using the parking app, we can get rid of parking ticket machines and achieve faster cost coverage, leading to reduced parking prices. The e-charging stations from RheinEnergie are a practical addition: customers can reserve not only a parking space but also a charging location. With this combination, CO2 savings are improved further.

Public Charging Infrastructure
Two public charging columns provide charging interfaces for a total of four electric vehicles. Non-electric vehicles are forbidden from using these parking spaces.

The company cleverciti was commissioned by RheinEnergie AG to install sensors for parking space monitoring at Charles de Gaulle-Square. The sensors hang on the public lighting and transmit data in real time, which is available at:
5 March 2017

Cologne blog #5: open air hackathon and international exchange

Action area 1: Low-Energy Districts

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.

Energy consultation in the Stegerwald settlement

The City of Cologne and its cooperation partner, the consumer center NRW, support the GrowSmarter project in Cologne. Tenants in the project area of the Stegerwaldsiedlung are eligible for a free energy consultation. This consultation is the perfect preparation for the installation of smart home devices and smart meters in the area. Tenants can receive an overview of their electricity and heating energy consumption as well as advice about heating and ventilation.

Consultants look at all household appliances, lamps, TVs and computers, as well as electric water heaters and other big electricity consumers, taking into account also the heating costs and total annual electricity consumption. In addition, tenants are asked about their electricity consumption habits, typical ventilation habits, and radiator settings. The design of the building and the location of the apartment are also included, since these factors also influence energy consumption. The total level of energy consumption is calculated from the data gathered, and the consultant provides recommendations for better-performing appliances the results are given to the energy consultant in a report for further check up.

The tenants were informed about this with a special invitation:

Action area 2: Integrated infrastructures

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.

Open Air Hackathon – Cologne is starting to become a smart city

What is a smart city exactly and how can one bring it to the general public? –What about transparency, citizen participation and new forms of climate protection? Initiated by the activities of GrowSmarter, the City of Cologne, RheinEnergy and representatives of civil society pursued this question on 28 October 2016 at an Open Air Hackathon.

First meeting on Friday, 28 October

Within the framework of a “Pen and Paper Hackathon”, new application scenarios for a smart city were sought with specially developed environmental sensors. Under the motto "Open Air Cologne", interested parties were invited to place initial rudimentary sensors in different locations in Cologne to get an overview of where and how pollutant concentrations are generated and spread. As a first step, about 20 NO2 measuring stations should be installed for interested citizens in Cologne.

NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) is a gas emitted, among others, by combustion engines. The goal is not 100% accurate measurement results, but the transfer of technology and know-how. Competent experts from research and science as well as from the field of industry provide corresponding input before the first prototype sensors can be used to gain experience.

Sensor Data from Friday, 2 February – 06:00 AM

The pursuit of new ideas did not end with the conclusion of the Hackathon, it continues with the cooperation of the city of Cologne, project partners from GrowSmarter and the Kölner OK Lab ( as well as the regular Open-Data-Roundtable initiated by the City of Cologne (#ODRC). The Hackathon was the starting point for a regular exchange with interested citizens and stakeholders, centring around questions like: What was the experience like with the sensors? How can technology be used in a targeted way to solve problems with open data? Does the solution already exist somewhere?

The Cologne OK Lab is a regional group of designers, developers, journalists and others who meet every two weeks to work on useful applications for open data.

In the process, the group develops different applications, for example to display Cologne’s playgrounds or monuments on maps, to find homes for animals in Cologne's animal shelters, or to show 3D representations of how many young people live in Cologne.

OK Lab is sponsored by the Open Knowledge Foundation, which launched the network of OK Labs in 2014. Code for Germany provides OK Labs with the necessary infrastructure to network with each other. In addition, the program supports the local groups in communication with government, institutions and the public. Decision-makers and administrations are also involved in the processes.

In this respect, the organisers of the Hackathon were grateful to have found this group interested in establishing the participative approach of GrowSmarter permanently. The event itself was divided into two sub-events: the actual sensors were built at the beginning of the one-week festival as part of an embedded hardware meetup and were distributed during this workshop. First, the functional principles of the sensors were shown and explained. There were demonstrations about what happens with the collected data and how it can be examined and further processed, e.g. to correlate with other data or create visualisations.

Participants could take sensors home, install them, and thus support Open Air Cologne with their own data. The second part of the Hackathon focused on the actual development of applications and the optimisations around the sensors themselves, including measurement accuracy, design of housing, etc. The discussions went until late in the evening with the participants working enthusiastically. For the first time, interested people will be part of the data collection and, in addition to the hardware and software engineering of environmental sensors, will also learn about the background and technical know-how on topics related to environmental measurements.

Design concept of Sensor Board and Body

Where does it go from here?

Additional information will be found on following websites:

The entire codebase will be available on:

Action area 3: Sustainable Urban Mobility

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.

Progress in CarSharing for sustainable urban mobility

The expansion of the mobility points in the Mülheim district is proceeding rapidly. Last year, four new Cambio CarSharing stations were opened. Two of them, REGENTEN and VON-SPARR, have already been equipped with charging stations from RheinEnergie (so-called Tank-E) and electric cars.

All new stations are within walking distance to public transport nodes. This is important in order to complement and connect different forms of mobility in the area. The station Bahnhof Mülheim is connected to tram, suburban train and regional transport. At the station Deutz, next to the station Auenweg at Charles-de-Gaulle-Platz, there is also a connection to the long-distance transportation. In the entire city area of Mülheim there will also be the possibility to use KVB´s bicycles, completing the service offer.

A total of 31 vehicles - including 4 electric ones - are now available to residents of the Mülheim area at different seven stations. Due to the variety of vehicles - in addition to the e-vehicles and small cars, there is also a truck, van or transporter – there are specific vehicles for many different requirements.

The GrowSmarter mobility points are not yet equipped with electric cars, but will also be equipped with Tank-Es and Renault Zoes in the following weeks. With a range of almost 120 km, the Renault Zoe is not just for going shopping in the city. Despite the compact size, it offers enough space for four people. Also the trunk has significant storage space. The Zoes are charged with green electricity. Thus the people of the Mülheim area can make a trip to the countryside without producing particulate pollution.

In addition to the seven existing stations, the station network in the district of Mülheim is to be further consolidated this year. Currently, two new stations are planned for 2017. The aim is to imlpement a comprehensive car-sharing service in Mülheim.

Map of car-sharing points in Mülheim Map of car-sharing point in Deutz

Presentation of GrowSmarter at 3rd World Internet Conference in Wuzhen/Shanghai

In September 2016 a delegation consisting of mayors of large towns, employees of market-leading enterprises and representatives of the company CETC visited the city of Cologne. The delegation was led by Dr. Wanje Chen from Graz, a follower city in GrowSmarter.

The representatives were informed about the aims and management of the smart city projects in Cologne. During a study tour in Stegerwald settlement the GrowSmarter project was presented. The integrated approach in the areas of energy, mobility and information technology impressed the delegation very much, and the city of Cologne was invited to participate at 3rdWorld Internet Conference in Wuzhen /Shanghai. This conference is attended by participants from all over the world.

The representative of the city of Cologne answered questions about smart city projects and GrowSmarter specifically to an audience of about 800. Particular attention was paid at the way of information and participation of the affected citizens during the entire process. The majors were highly interested in the implementation of innovative measures.

The exchange across the borders of continents has brought new knowledge and ideas to all sides, and should be continued.

Photo of Representatives of Wuzhen Conference and City Cologne (M)

District talk in Mülheim - Citizen participation in the GrowSmarter

On 15 December 2016, Mayor Reker invited the citizens of Mülheim to express their concerns and questions related to GrowSmarter. All the construction measures in Stegerwaldsiedlung as well as the plans for the mobile stations in the urban area Mülheim were presented. More than 600 suggestions and questions were collected from the participants, and Mrs. Reker assured that the questions would be answered within 14 days. A film was also shown to present the GrowSmarter measures and directly address tenants' concerns. The dialogue process is to be continued in summer 2017 with an event in Stegerwaldsiedlung.

Photo of GrowSmarter Information Point

31 October 2016

Cologne blog #4: citizen involvement and integrated infrastructure

I am happy to share with you that Cologne has been recognized with an award for its participation in GrowSmarter by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy! Projects all over Germany related to intelligent networks were reviewed, and Cologne won in the category “cross-sectoral”. More information can be found in this article (in German)

Action area 1: Low energy districts

Citizen involvement: the Stegerwald Settlement

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.

At the Stegerwald Settlement in Cologne, the first construction phase is underway and the second phase of construction started in May 2016. The planning and tendering process for the different local energy productions is mainly completed.

With photovoltaic modules installed on the roofs of the first four buildings, our progress is becoming more and more visible!

Smart Solution 1 Energy efficient refurbishment of the building

© RheinEnergie

As you can see on the map the scaffolding is now progressing and the construction of the next buildings is coming closer.

(Insulating of buildings, installing triple glazed windows) © RheinEnergie

DEWOG has started the refurbishment and is currently insulating the buildings, basement ceiling, and roofs as well as installing triple glazed windows in some of the buildings. The façades will be reinforced with an additional 10cm of insulation on the gable side, adding to the existing 6cm insulation. Houses which are not yet insulated are being provided with 16cm of insulation. Also the buildings in the Deutz-Mülheimer Street (which are in the second construction phase) will be insulated with 16cm after dismantling the existing 6cm. The insulation keeps the temperature of the buildings more consistent, whether during warm or cold temperatures. By doing so, we can significantly reduce the primary energy consumption for heating and cooling.

The old self-contained central heating has been replaced with central heating in two buildings. The two other buildings in the first construction phase will be completed soon. The installation of new energy efficient elevators is also underway. Furthermore, the stairway lighting in all renovated buildings will be replaced with efficient LED lighting.

(Preparation of the elevator shaft) © RheinEnergie

DEWOG will install modern, electrically powered heat pumps with high efficiency which will be powered by the PV-modules of RheinEnergie. Soon RheinEnergie will also add electric storage. The combination of these components will reduce the consumption of primary energy in the Stegerwald Settlement significantly.

© RheinEnergie

Until the modern heating components are finished, the tenants of the settlement must be provided with temporary heating stations. To this end, RheinEnergie has deployed three heating stations (two rented and one mobile RheinEnergie heating station) presently in use. We expect to complete the installation of the new heating components in October, just in time for the winter.

© RheinEnergie

Smart Solutions 3 and 5: Smart Home System and Smart Meter analysis and actuators

With the SmartHome application of RheinEnergie in combination with SmartMeter of AGT International, the tenants are able to track the current energy consumption of connected devices. As a result tenants are able to recognize devices which consume large amounts of energy and should get a better general overview about their consumption of electricity. This could motivate them to replace their electrical equipment, or parts thereof, with energy-saving devices.

AGT International and RheinEnergie are currently working on a joint venture to combine both systems into one. Since the Federal Government is currently deciding about the necessary IT-security (potentially to conclude by the end of 2016), the rollout of smart meters may begin mid-2017.

The SmartHome system was shown and explained to the tenants at an event in the Stegerwald Settlement in November 2015. Another event is planned for November 2016, where SmartHome will be presented to the tenants again.

In order to display the functions of the system, DEWOG in cooperation with RheinEnergie and AGT International is installing the Smart Energy Solution (hardware and software) in the Stegerwald Café.

© RheinEnergie

Smart Solution 4: Virtual power plant – “Siedlungsmanagement”

Virtual power plants for holistic settlement management have so far only been carried out as research projects. The RheinEnergie „Siedlungsmanagement” software leads to an autonomous self-sustaining development for communities. This would partially replace the supra-regional grid expansion as well as the construction of new conventional power plants. In addition, it provides the residents with the opportunity to influence their own energy consumption. The “Siedlungsmanagement” is a tool that is designed to be replicated in other city or town.

Based on the data provided by smart meters and smart home appliances, RheinEnergie is better able to offer attractive tariffs (“Mieterstrom”) and useful services to the tenants.

The holistic interaction of all components, such as power generation, storage, SmartHome, Smart Meter and consumption, will lead to a change in energy awareness as well as a social sense of community within the settlement.

© RheinEnergie

Smart Solution 11: Developing charging infrastructure

The City of Cologne, together with 12 partners, is working on a project called "colognE-mobil". This is one of the largest field tests as part of a program called “model regions for electro-mobility” launched by the German government. The charging infrastructure for GrowSmarter will be implemented together with the e-mobility.

The city government has now approved the mobility-stations, so RheinEnergie is able to start installing the charging infrastructure. That hasn’t been an easy task!

Lots of planning was required, including coordination with all affected city departments, transportation agencies, as well as with North Rhine-Westphalian legislation. RheinEnergie will install approximately 15 charging stations in the project area Mülheim.

© RheinEnergie

To promote the GrowSmarter project, we use opportunities like street festivals that are very popular in the summer months. One such festival, with a rich history of tradition, took place in Deutz, neighbourhood neighbouring district to the Stegerwald settlement and the location of one of the mobility stations at the Charles-de-Gaulle Square. With our partners KVB and cambio CarSharing we informed citizens about the trend-setting solutions in traffic, energy, and communication technology that we are launching within GrowSmarter. While discussing how to steer traffic flows and fulfil climate protection goals, many of the citizens decided to reduce their private car usage and signed up for carsharing and bike rentals. An important factor in this decision is the central location and the wide range of mobility options at the mobility stations.

© Stadt Köln

This demonstrates the importance of good promotion for GrowSmarter!

Action area 2: Integrated Infrastructure

Cracking open data - stimulating local entrepreneurs & traffic management

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.

In our last blog we told you about our partner KVB, who provided their locations for the rental bikes as well as the actual position of each rental bike. A member of the open data community has now used this data to develop an application:

The application is not yet finished – at the moment it only works properly in Google Chrome - but it is a very good example of how open data can be used to encourage innovation. We are very encouraged to gather and provide more data!

1 June 2016

Cologne blog#3: Urban planning of mobility hubs

Find out how we are working with our industry partners to build up a route of several mobility points from Messe-Deutz station North through the Stegerwaldsiedlung and the wider Mülheim district.

Our data platform continues to be developed and has already stimulated local entrepreneurs to create some 25 Apps.

Action area 2: Integrated infrastructures

Cracking open data - stimulating local entrepreneurs & traffic management

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.

Those of you who have read my previous blogs will know that as part of the GrowSmarter project we are developing the City of Cologne’s open data platform to include new datasets to help improve traffic management.

Cambio carsharing and KVB (both GrowSmarter industry partners) have now provided datasets on the locations of the rental cars/ rental bikes, respectively as well as their actual positions when in use, so we have both static and dynamic data now available for these services.

• Car rental (cambio car-sharing) dataset, can be accessed here:

• Bike rental (KVB) dataset, can be accessed here:

Photos: Bike-sharing ©Cambio Köln

Our partner [ui!] – the urban institute is now busy implementing these datasets into the cockpit of the open data platform.

Some 25 Apps have already been developed based on the Cologne open data platform which shows a wide range of different use cases and we hope that by adding richer datasets will open up new value chains that spawn innovative and smart solutions which in turn boost sustainable modes of city living and working.

So now we made the first step in motivating the people to change their behaviour. It’s so easy to check for the next cambio station or the next bike to use!

Curious how it works? Check at and about the terms and conditions.

Action area 3: Sustainable Urban Mobility

Urban planning of mobility hubs – when do public and private interests overlap?

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.

In our first blog we mentioned our plans to develop mobility hubs at strategic points throughout the Mülheim area and the Stegerwaldsiedlung (no 2 on the map), where intensive building refurbishment is taking place as part of the GrowSmarter project. It has taken a bit of time, but now we have some new updates to share!

General overview

As the Stegerwaldsiedlung, directly borders Urban district 1: downtown (high traffic levels), we have built up a route of several mobility points which run from Messe-Deutz station (see green circle on map) directing traffic North through the Stegerwaldsiedlung and the wider Mülheim district. Urban mobility measures (smart solutions 10-12: Smart traffic management, Alternative fuel driven vehicles and Smart mobility solutions) to be rolled out in areas 1-3 on the map are described in brief below. More detailed information on the planning can be found here

Übersichtsplan ©Stadt Köln


Located to the North of Messe-Deutz station, the Charles-de-Gaulle Square lies between Auenweg and the river Rhine and is well connected with trams, regional trains, as well as, the high-speed ICE trains for long-distance travel.

Parking lots currently for cars (bikes to follow) to the East of this square are currently rented out privately, while those to the West are managed by the City. The latter is classified as fiscal property, which is not under public law, and provides enough space for all modules of mobility hubs.

Our GrowSmarter partners in Cologne, Cambio and Ampido submitted applications with the City administration at the beginning of the year to manage some of these parking lots. These applications have been accepted subject to conditions, mainly related to design elements.

Ampido will manage five parking lots using the online management of parking space. Cambio requested five lots, two for electric vehicles and three for conventional vehicles. It is also envisaged that KVB will set up a public electric charging station for two electric vehicles.

KVB AG will install a bike rental station in the immediate vicinity of the station providing both electric and pedal bicycles. The exact location has yet to be determined.

Charles-de-Gaulle-Square ©Stadt Köln


Moving over to the Stegerwaldsiedlung, the mobility hubs here will be built on property owned by GrowSmarter partner DEWOG, which is also closely located to Cologne’s public transport system; station stop Stegerwaldsiedlung offers connections straight into the city centre.

Arrangements to accommodate all of the proposed mobility solutions within this hub will be managed by DEWOG and the other partners. Preliminary consent for this process has been signed by DEWOG.

As large-scale retrofitting of the buildings in Stegerwaldsiedlung are underway to improve energy efficiency, as such the outside area is partly needed for the building site. Therefore, implementation depends on the progress of these renovation activities.

Current plans are shown below with the exact allocation of the industrial partners has yet to be determined.

Stegerwaldsiedlung © DEWOG

The Köln-Mülheim station forecourt

Recently refurbished as part of the Mülheim 2020 project, the forecourt of the Köln-Mülheim station sees many passengers pass through every day on their way to and from the city either by bus or the city light rail network, provided by KVB. The station is a connecting point for commuter trains coming from outside the city and regional trains.

This area forecourt belongs to the Deutsche Bahn (DB) and is currently managed by a DB AG subsidiary, car-charing company Flinkster.

Based on the licensing agreement concluded between Deutsche Bahn AG and the city of Cologne, DB AG has agreed to provide Ampido and Cambio with the use of two parking lots each. The exact allocation has still to be agreed upon with DB AG.

Köln-Mülheim station forecourt ©Stadt Köln

In this blog
Solution 8: Big data management
Measure 8.1 : Big data platform

Solution 10: Smart traffic management,

Solution 11:Alternative fuel driven vehicles

Solution 12:Smart mobility solutions

Barbara Moehlendick

Site Manager, Cologne

For the previous blog post, click here