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21.02.2018

Industrie 4.0 conference: Chances of the Internet of Things for German municipalities

The Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) invited experts from industry, municipalities, the startup scene and associations to the fourth Industrie 4.0 conference on 15 February. Innovative approaches were discussed, how municipalities and municipal companies can benefit from digitization in the public service sector.

Guests of the conference:: Minister President of Brandenburg Dietmar Woidke (r.), Chief Executive Officer of the German Association of Local Utilities (VKU) Katharina Reiche (m.) and HPI CEO Professor Christoph Meinel (l.). (Photo: HPI/K.Herschelmann)

Overview 2018

HPI Press release (in German)

Video of the conference

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Website of the event (in German)

There are already many useful user scenarios for IoT in the public service sector. This starts with intelligent traffic management, continues with networked decentralized energy distribution and finally also covers the broad field of e-government. Some of these versatile scenarios were presented at the Industrie 4.0 conference and opened up a wide field for discussion.

Dr. Dietmar Woidke, premier of Brandenburg, sees the digital transformation as a great opportunity for rural and structurally weak regions. Because there are other topics in focus as in the cities. Brandenburg needs special solutions in the regions with lower population density, for example for agriculture and health care. "That's why we need solutions that take the specific conditions of rural areas into account," Woidke said in his welcoming address to the conference.

According to Katherina Reiche, chief executive of the Verband kommunaler Unternehmen e.V., many areas in the “smart city affect the public sector. Technical innovations are made directly perceptible and can be experienced. The municipal companies not only understood this, but also partially implemented it.”

State Secretary of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), Matthias Machnig, sees great potential in the Smart City market

The concept of Smart City gives us the opportunity to develop networked participatory cities and to make urban spaces even more liveable and more humane. Also economically there is a lot of potential in the Smart City market, according to Matthias Machnig, State Secretary at the BMWi. He appealed to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to open up to digitization: "Anyone who is not digital today as an SME will no longer be part of the value chain tomorrow." Above all, start-ups in the field of smart city technologies can be valuable drivers of innovation and support established municipal utilities in mastering the digital transformation.

Gallery: Industrie 4.0 conference 2018

Dr. Sigrid Nikutta, Managing Director of Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG): public transport takes up key position

The Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe presented an autonomous shuttle bus at the Industrie 4.0 conference, which gave visitors the opportunity to experience innovations in public transport in practice. "Public transport is the most efficient way to ensure urban mobility," says Sigrid Evelyn Nikutta. In a car, there would be a maximum of five people, in a subway over five hundred. For growing cities, there is no alternative but public transport. Public transport also occupies a key position in a smart city. "Thanks to new mobility services and their intelligent networking, transport companies are developing into the center of smart mobility," the managing director of BVG said. Nevertheless, one should remain cautious: "Just because everything can be digitized does not mean that everything has to be digitized."