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German Research Institute for Public Administration

Smart Cities' Government

The trendy term "Smart Cities' Government" highlights the potential for promoting the common good with intelligent networking in the public sphere. In a world riddled with sensors, there are great opportunities for modern digital infrastructure (especially in public transportation agencies and energy systems) - but there are also great challenges.

The car of the future will make independent decisions and is networked with its environment. The individual components communicate not only with the digital autopilots but also with other vehicles on the road (for example, warning them of black ice or an unexpected traffic jam). Sensors embedded in the driving lanes count vehicles, measure speeds and control the flow of individual and public transportation. Automation and networking pave the way for efficient use of the transit infrastructure under the requirements of increased general mobility.

These mobile applications open up previously unknown opportunities for data evaluation focused on the common good. The traffic flow in the smart city avoids back-ups and long wait times at bus stops and rail stations: Based on position and movement data from those using the road, the focal points for the traffic load can be determined, the flow of traffic directed, typical causes of accidents determined (and predicted) and the potential of local public transit maximised. Intelligent mobility systems network public and private traffic seamlessly into a comprehensive ecosystem.

In these areas of activity, digitalised and fully automated usage scenarios stand out in the near future - especially in communal areas of responsibility (public utilities, traffic operations, etc.), as well as for coordination across different levels. However, these new technical opportunities are associated with basic questions that affect the development of the "networked city" beyond the subject of traffic.

- In what scope and under which conditions is it actually acceptable to let the dataflow in the smart city also be given to state agencies and have data exchanged between private and public agencies? How can the state bundle the data from networked private devices and embedded systems for public functions without excessive interference in the property, professional activity or free competition of the device manufacturers, data generators, Big Data hosting providers and cloud service providers?

- How can a legal framework for so-called Open Private Data be appropriately tailored, standardised for the "data submission" obligations of private parties, legal allocation of the rights to the data and positioned for the appropriate commissioning?

- How can the provided information and communications technology be designed to be secure and confidential while being free of the potential for discrimination?

 Note: The text on this home page is copyrighted. It is taken verbatim or based on Martini, "Digitalisierung als Herausforderung und Chance für Staat und Verwaltung" (Digitalisation as Challenge and Chance for State and Administration), FÖV Discussion Paper No. 85, 2016, in particular p. 47 ff.

Senior Fellow

Prof. Dr. Mario Martini




Tobias Rehorst