On June 5, the German and American Chambers of Commerce, supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, hosted the Smart Cities and Sustainable Transportation Systems Transatlantic Business Conference in Denver, Colorado. The conference brought together German urban transportation companies and was part of a larger trade mission of German energy efficiency innovators that also visited Chicago. The Denver metro area is of interest to the Chambers of Commerce because of an increase in transportation-related investment since Denver was named a finalist in the 2015 Smart Cities Challenge. Since the challenge, Denver and the state of Colorado have committed to pursuing EV production, charging infrastructure expansion, and automated vehicle use, making it an attractive location for German urban transportation businesses.
Denver and Dortmund
The interest from German companies in US smart city and transportation systems stems from Germany’s own experience and success with smart city projects. The country, with its 4 million miles of road network, stands out as leader in electric transportation and smart city initiatives. The city of Dortmund is currently implementing smart city programs which includes targeting air quality issues, e-mobility concepts, pedestrian accessibility, cycling and traffic safety, and mobility management projects. Dr. Jan Fritz Rettberg of TU Dortmund University discussed the project in detail on June 5, including the installation of an EV charging center in Dortmund powered by solar PV as a way to reduce air pollution and increase e-mobility. Dr. Rettberg also noted that the smart city initiative has several projects under planning such as developing new and priority bike routes, connecting transport modes, electrifying taxis, and reducing public transport rates.
Denver Smart Transportation Projects
Transportation Energy Lead for the City and County of Denver, Mike Salisbury, discussed the sustainable transportation projects Denver is pursuing in order to reach a greenhouse gas reduction of 80% by 2050. Denver’s Smart City Program focuses on accessible mobility, transportation electrification, and intelligent vehicles and transportation systems. As part of the intelligent transportation systems, the Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment Program (ATCMTD) is a federal grant aimed at deploying connected freight and fleet vehicles. The ATCMTD Program will implement technologies allowing vehicles to communicate with one another to increase safety and reduce costs for participating fleets. The transportation innovation in Denver and the state of Colorado as a whole makes Denver a prime target for solution-oriented smart city companies to implement their products.
Smart City Companies Expanding Their Markets
As part of the trade commission, companies that have provided solutions for German smart cities programs were present at the conference, and hopeful of expanding into the US smart city market. Colibri Energy GmbH, DataCollect Traffic Systems, eluminocity, ICE Gateway GmbH, MENTZ, and RTB showcased their smart city technologies and products including traffic light equipment, EV charging infrastructure, and traffic management systems.
Overall, at the conference, there was optimism that German and US companies would continue to work together in the future to promote sustainable transportation within the broader smart city sphere. The continued efforts of the German American Chambers of Commerce and other similar organizations point toward exciting collaboration possibilities.
Tags: Automated Vehicles, Electric Vehicles, Policy & Regulation, Smart Cities, Smart Transportation Practice
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