NETWORKED AND COMBINABLE
CHRISTIAN U. HAAS is Chief Executive Officer of PTV Group. He has 20 years of international management experience in the software and technology industry. Haas was previously Executive Vice President Europe at FIS, one of the world's leading providers of financial technology solutions, among others. Haas began his career at Dresdner Kleinwort Benson and Deutsche Bank.
Daniel Boss In conversation with Christian U. Haas, CEO at PTV Group
Mr Haas, Corona has ruthlessly exposed the shortcomings of a digital infrastructure - do we even have the necessary foundations for smart cities?
Germany has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to digitalisation. One example is the expansion of the 5G standard - that has to happen much faster. The intelligent use of data is elementary to making cities smart. This applies in particular to the area of mobility - and not only to new technologies such as autonomous driving, but also to understanding and managing the increasingly complex mobility ecosystem. Good impulses are coming from the Mobility Data Space, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport. It is a platform on which all kinds of mobility data, such as maps, weather and infrastructure data, are made available and networked. The data room is a real milestone, in which we at PTV Group are of course also actively involved. We need such initiatives and intensive cooperation between the public and private sectors in order to drive innovation forward more quickly.
What about the much-cited skilled workers: Do we have the human resources?
Germany has no shortage of bright minds. The PTV Group, for example, is based in Karlsruhe, which is home to numerous innovative tech companies. In my opinion, however, it is important to promote young people and their ideas even better. For this reason, we launched an incubator programme last year to support innovations in the field of mobility and transport.
Please fill the buzz word with life: How does a smart city work in concrete terms?
People are at the centre of the Smart City. In order to create an urban environment that is worth living in and geared to the needs of the citizens, modern technologies in the various areas of energy, mobility, urban planning, administration and communication must be linked in such a way that processes run more efficiently and resources are conserved. Only when solutions and measures interlock can they unfold their full potential. An intelligent e-mobility strategy, for example, needs links to the smart grid. Digital information must be networked and combinable, and data must be available in standardised formats. Data lakes or data pools are the key words here. An integrated strategy is needed that is centrally planned and controlled.
What role does mobility play in the smart city?
Mobility has always been an important driver of progress. Thus, the continuous and efficient flow of people and goods is a central lifeline of the Smart City. There is a kind of interaction here: the transformation of mobility is decisively shaped by the structural change to the smart city and vice versa. Digital infrastructure and networking, the use of data and artificial intelligence - all these influence how mobility, new services and technologies develop, and this in turn shapes the smart city image.
What do municipalities need to do now to position themselves accordingly?
An integrated smart city strategy is the key element. This also includes the legal framework to ensure that the data collected is always secure and allowed to be used. Cities like London or Vienna, which repeatedly top the smart city rankings, also have central decision-making bodies that steer the implementation of the strategy across the different areas. In general, I think it is important that cities and municipalities intensively deal with smart city solutions. In the field of mobility, it is now more important than ever to understand the complex system of different modes, services and operators and to actively orchestrate it. Digital twins of cities and simulations are important tools for this. They help decision-makers to prepare for such new technologies and services in a virtual environment.
In what way does such a transformation also serve sustainability?
Of course, this transformation also serves the climate goals. Even more, it is driven by the fight against climate change as well as a change in the basic attitude of citizens towards sustainability.