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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 installed.

Battery storage 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 Cologne_blog" target="_blank" >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 Cologne_blog" target="_blank" >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
29 February 2016

Cologne blog#2: Citizen engagement in the Stegerwald settlement

Here in Cologne we have made a dedicated push towards our citizen engagement initiatives in the Stegerwald Settlement, where a number of smart solutions are going to be rolled out. Just before the end of 2015 we held a citizen event with local residents where we shared information on the GrowSmarter project and also gave the opportunity for citizens to get involved through our Community Reporter programme.

Our colleagues and partners at Urbis Up are in the process of collecting different data sets to be fed into a data platform to help us work more strategically when it comes to traffic planning.

Action area 1: Low-Energy Districts
Citizen involvement: the Stegerwald Settlement

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

Just in time for the year’s end (24 November, 2015 to be exact!), the City of Cologne hosted an event to inform residents from the Stegerwald settlement about the GrowSmarter project and the impact it would have for them locally.

Our goal was to take tenants and other interested attendees on a journey into the future of their residence, gain acceptance and encourage active involvement in the measures such as smart home, car sharing, data information etc.

Tenants meeting © Stadt Köln, RheinEnergie

The tenants meeting was also an opportunity for local project partners (RheinEnergie, AGT International, ampido, cambio carsharing, DEWOG, KVB, ui – the urban institute and Stadt Köln) to present an overview of all the ambitious activities planned to take place in the Stegerwald settlement, as well as framing it in the context of the GrowSmarter project as a whole.

One of the videos, produced by the event organiser RheinEnergie explains all the different energy measures in an amusing way. Take a look, it’s worth it! The event was also documented by Community Reporters / Stadt Köln who produced a video in German as well as one with English subtitles.

Local newspapers were present and reported about the event:
What’s next?
To provide a continuous flow of, and access to, information the GrowSmarter project, Stadt Köln and the local industry partners will continue to host bi-monthly informational meetings on-site, at the Stegerwaldcafé, to answer any questions and/or gather tenant’s suggestions.

Stegerwaldcafe © Stadt Köln

We are also keen to build up a local group of Community Reporters in the Stegerwald Settlement. We are in contact with local youth groups and elderly citizens as we would like to encourage them to document the changes that are happening around them and particularly, though not exclusively, the impact of GrowSmarter.

More information on this can be found:

Action area 2: Integrated infrastructures
Cracking open data - stimulating local entrepreneurs & traffic management

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

In our last blog update we introduced our platform, the Cologne Cockpit. At this stage we are very busy gathering data sources to share via this platform and so the interface is still under development. But to give you an idea what we are talking about, our partner ui! – the urban institute developed a mock-up, below:

All further real data will be shared via our open data platform. The lion’s share of the data is government data from the municipality of Cologne, which is gathered and split into 13 different categories, e.g. structural data, geographical information (GIS) or environmental data. Since open data in Cologne is not only a city-run project other stakeholders can also participate. By the end of 2015 we had seven stakeholders, including the police of Cologne and the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

The idea behind sharing our data in a freely accessible and transparent way is to make it reusable and enable participation and engagement of civil society thereby releasing social and commercial value.

Below are some website user-statistics for 2015:

It is very encouraging that there is an apparent growth and continued interest in open data which shows prevailing mood on this issue. Some 25 Apps have already been developed based on the Cologne open data platform which shows a wide range of different use cases. For example a mobile App which shows the parking capacity in real-time, a game to better get to know the Cologne districts, as well as different visualisations.

The City of Cologne has established itself internationally as a known player in the field of OpenData and we are therefore keen to keep making progress in this area, also through the GrowSmarter project, to open up innovation potential by sharing data in this way.

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

Barbara Moehlendick
Site Manager, Cologne

For the previous blog post, click here
2 December 2015

Cologne blog #1: A blueprint for sustainable urban development

“We hope in Cologne that with the “GrowSmarter Project”, we will be able to find more than just one solution to a single problem. We would like to develop blueprints for the sustainable development of complete neighbourhoods”. (Quote of former Cologne Mayor Jürgen Roters in his speech whilst the Kick-off Meeting to Grow Smarter on 10th February 2015 in Stockholm, Sweden.)

Over the last months we have seen the scaffolding go up in the Stegerwald settlement where we aim to implement a range of integrated solutions and talked to citizens, we have our data platform which is now in its first stages of being set up and our mobility hubs where we have run in to some issues…!

Action area 1: Low-Energy Districts
Energy efficiency & citizen involvement: the Stegerwald Settlement

Partners involved:
RheinEnergie, Dewog and AGT

Facts about Stegerwald Settlement
Construction year: 1953
Floor space: roughly 33.529 m2 (concerning only the actual refurbishment)
Energy consumption (2013): 163 kWh/m2 per year (heating and hot water)36 kWh/m2 per year (electricity)

Germany’s buildings account for almost 37% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions (2010). Houses from the 1950s, like those in the Stegerwald Settlement, tend be lightly insulated. It is common to find attics with a single layer of insulation and walls with insulating values that are much lower than that required in new homes.

As part of Cologne’s commitment to the Mayor’s Covenant and “Klima-Bündnis” towards improving energy efficiency, we are working to create next-generation properties without these fundamental flaws to address the growing concerns over energy consumption, working towards a more sustainable future. In the GrowSmarter project 16 multi-family homes in the Stegerwald Settlement will benefit from a number of integrated solutions.

In the middle of August 2015 we were pleased to see the scaffolding going up in the Stegerwald Settlement district.

The buildings will have to adhere to Germany’s Energy Saving Regulation (EnEV) (last amended in 2014) which sets out thermal insulation standards for residential and commercial buildings. The regulation sets out values for the construction of new buildings but not for existing buildings. Therefor were are using empirical values.

The partners RheinEnergie, Dewog, and AGT have teamed up to provide measures for the tenants living in the Stegerwald Settlement in Cologne. In order to reduce the lead and consumption of primary energy, in the Stegerwald Settlement, RheinEnergie will install electric storages, PV, a district heat connection and heat pumps (by DEWOG) in the next two years. These all will be managed by a software like a software for a virtual power plant; called “Siedlungsmanagement”. At the same time DEWOG will implement energetic and structural measures.

Within the project GrowSmarter some apartments (50 to 100) will get a SmartHome equipment to save electricity and warm water for heating. The third partner, AGT International, will provide its expertise in acquiring energy consumption data on device level and its proven comprehensive data analytic capabilities developed in the BMWi funded project PeerEnergyCloud.

Energy consumption will be measured by Smart Plugs transmitting the data wirelessly and securely to a local gateway. Data will be pre-processed, anonymized and send via a secure channel to the backend systems. Here, advanced data analytic components will provide insights into the consumption behavior.

In a first step RheinEnergie, Dewog and AGT are developing a concept addressing the tenants in the Stegerwald Settlement about the benefits using Smart Energy solutions (2015-November-24). Additionally, a technical feasibility study is currently planned and will be realized in the next months.

Action area 2: Integrated infrastructures
Cracking open data - stimulating local entrepreneurs & traffic management

Partners involved: The Urban Institute and Microsoft

Something very new for us is our foray into expanding our digital infrastructure in the form of our open data platform, an official site providing free access to a number of data-sets from Cologne.

We believe data is a source of massive potential value for cities to enable sustainable growth and tackle environmental and economic challenges. By technologically enabling the city we hope to tap into this potential value to create a fully-integrated, strategically-designed smart city; a concept which is also at the heart of the GrowSmarter project.

So, how does the platform work? Well, together with our partner ui! – the urban institute which is providing the software architecture (based on its platform UrbanPulse) and Microsoft, which is providing the Cloud infrastructure, Cologne plans to make city data available to citizens — securely and affordably. UrbanPulse gathers existing sensor data, such as data from Cologne’s traffic management system, and displays this data as annotated street maps via a web server.

The data platform is now up and running with users able to access and download non real-time traffic flow data. We are not quite at the stage of being able to offer real-time data, but we are working on it and exploring additional data sets which could be incorporated e.g. the road construction sites. This initial platform was demonstrated at the International Automobile Exhibition (IAA) in Frankfurt as part of the New Mobility World.

An on-going discussion with the City of Cologne in the development of this platform has been a concern about privacy issues. So far, all data comes from urban sensors and no personal or individual data is being stored or used. But as we look at expanding the data sets for example to include energy related data, this issue will be addressed.

A second issue is the security of data. One of the reasons to choose Microsoft Azure® has been because it is the only leading provider of cloud services to support the world's first international standard for data security in the cloud, known as ISO / IEC 27018 , and developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The standard aims to create a uniform and internationally valid concept to protect personal data stored in the cloud.

Ultimately we hope by unlocking public data and making it available to interested citizens, entrepreneurs and organisations to open up new value chains that spawn innovative and smart solutions which in turn boost sustainable modes of city living and working.

Action area 3: Sustainable Urban Mobility
Mobility hubs – when do public and private interests overlap?

Partners involved: Ampido, Cambio, KVB

In an attempt to reduce traffic on the roads three “mobility-hubs” will be installed as part of the GrowSmarter project. These hubs are comprised of several car sharing lots and also space for people to park their car a little way outside of the city centre and to take one of the provided E-Bikes to complete the rest of their journey. In addition there is the possibility to charge E-Cars. The energy to charge the E-Cars will be produced at the multi-family homes which are being refurbished (mentioned above).

image copyright cambio Köln

But we have run into some issues! According to German laws, public ground can’t be used for private (profit-making) purposes, e.g. car sharing services offered by Ampido. So these hubs have to be installed on private ground.

I will be back soon with more experiences with implementing the first smart solutions in Cologne in the next blog, but please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences this far in Cologne.

Barbara Moehlendick
Site Manager, Cologne