The city of the future

Clever ideas for cities of the future

Noise reduction

Multifunctional green façades clean the air and swallow noise.

Fast data

Fiber-optic cable is laid in the floor.

Individual transport

Climb on board, enter the destination – and the cabin automatically takes you to the right address.


Rooftop recreational areas and gardens are created for everyone.


Every house functions like an autonomous power plant. Smart grids distribute power as needed.


All environmental parameters and movement patterns of city residents are registered and then targeted energy and transportation is provided accordingly.

The city of the future unites high tech and green areas.
Illustration: Fraunhofer IAO

Cars and trucks are banned from the downtown area – only bikes and electric cars are allowed. Smart energy systems and communication technologies reduce power consumption. There is no more noise. Quality of life increases dramatically. Mere imagination? No. These concepts will become reality by 2020. And TÜV SÜD is involved.

What connects the cities of Manchester in Great Britain, Stavanger in Norway and Eindhoven in the Netherlands? All three cities are real-life laboratories for the European Union’s Triangulum Project coordinated by Germany’s Fraunhofer IAO and supported by 23 partners throughout Europe. TÜV SÜD is one of those partners because its real estate analysts have a great deal of expertise in valuing real estate and urban structures based on the building structure and environmental parameters. These three cities should be a paradise by 2020. Cars will be banned from the city center by then – only bikes and electric cars will be allowed. Buses will be equipped with whisper diesel motors and eventually replaced by streetcars in the Metrolink system. Trucks will no longer be allowed downtown. They will unload their goods outside of town in new logistics centers, which will then be taken over and delivered by bike and electric car curriers. Smart energy systems will reduce power consumption and CO2 emissions for all vehicles and buildings. With the help of cutting-edge information and communication technologies, residents can access different aspects of the infrastructure such as reserving electric cars for car sharing or using smart parking space concepts. Sensors installed on streetlights, for example, capture motion data among other things so that street lighting, public transportation and rental car offerings can be managed as needed. Biomass cogeneration plants will also be built.

The change will be enormous for people who live and work in Manchester, Stavanger and Eindhoven. Traffic jams will disappear, air quality will improve and city centers will finally be quieter. Instead of the roar of traffic, people will be able to hear human voices and birds singing, underscored by the soft buzzing of electric cars. “Our goal is to find viable solutions to make cities smart, sustainable and livable in the future. To achieve this, we’re implementing pioneering concepts for sustainable energy, mobility and information technology, initially in three selected cities,” says Alanus von Radecki from the IAO, which is coordinating the project. An information and communication technology architecture that is being implemented in all three “lighthouse cities” is at the project’s core. “It’s the underlying foundation that networks the individual technologies in the city and aligns them,” explains von Radecki. The scientists are utilizing a uniform architecture for information and communication technology developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems (FOKUS). This makes transferring the concepts to other cities relatively easy – even if the conditions and issues are not exactly the same. “The project’s modular approach makes it possible,” states von Rodecki.

Our goal is to find viable solutions to make cities smart, sustainable and livable in the future.

All the utilized technologies will be implemented one building block at a time and data captured to establish a comparable information base. Essentially, all the core topics for future-oriented cities are based on information, communication, data sharing and networking in real-time. The key is to align previously separate existing communication infrastructures, whether from sensor, information or mobile communication networks. The sustainability experts from TÜV SÜD’s Real Estate Valuation department are working closely with the Fraunhofer Institute to evaluate progress in the Triangulum Project. The independent validation of the data is a pillar of the European Union’s Smart City Program. The project can only be expanded to other cities once the positive (or possibly negative) effects of the project on people, the environment and quality of life as well as economic power and performance have been analyzed by a neutral party. And that is the plan. Starting in 2020, the findings from the lighthouse projects will be transferred to Leipzig, Prague and Sabadell in Spain. Other projects also aim to improve quality of life and reduce noise in major cities: Munich is planning four-meter-wide bicycle freeways with no intersections that will allow commuters from the surrounding region to cycle into the city. What they hope to achieve: 15 to 20 percent less vehicle traffic, fewer traffic jams, lower emissions, less noise. In Songdo, South Korea they are already anticipating the future: Effective sensor systems monitor people, the environment, energy consumption and traffic. Cars with combustion motors are prevented from entering the city; electric cars have right-of-way. This reduces energy consumption on average by up to 30 percent, noise levels as well. Masdar City in Abu Dhabi is a planned research city that is CO2 neutral and car-free. People and goods are transported in underground personal rapid transport networks that convey users to their chosen destination in an automated cabin at speeds up to 40 km/h. The future makes many things possible. And TÜV SÜD is involved.

The sound of the future is not noise – it’s quiet. People quickly get accustomed to cars that make almost no noise. And even the tires rolling on special asphalt are almost silent. Airplane engines are muffled; factories equipped with acoustic insulation.  The conversion of the Corridor in Manchester from a busy traffic hub to a low-traffic green mile is one of the lighthouse projects for the quiet city. Along with Manchester, Eindhoven in the Netherlands and Stavanger, Norway are participating in this experiment by the European Union.

In Eindhoven, the former Philips industrial complex will become a sustainable residential neighborhood. And the future will be quiet here as well.

This vision of the future is part of the European Union’s Triangulum Project, with Eindhoven in the Netherlands and Stavanger, Norway taking part alongside Manchester. The Fraunhofer IAO Institute is coordinating the project. In Eindhoven, projects include the installation of sensors planned to control street lighting. And in Stavanger – where more electric cars are on the road than anywhere else in Europe – smart charging stations are being installed that communicate with the energy supplier. “Sustainable city concepts like these are urgently needed,” says Kai Tepe from TÜV SÜD. “After all, in 35 years an estimated 80 percent of the population will live in cities. So we need smart solutions to implement increasingly complex infrastructures in an environmentally friendly, livable and efficient way.” TÜV SÜD is one of 20 partners in Europe supporting this ambitious project and contributing to its long-term success. The experts are examining the positive – or also negative – effects of the project on people, the environment, quality of life, economic power and performance. This independent analysis is a prerequisite for the next step, because Triangulum’s European tour continues in 2020. That’s when three new cities will benefit from the initiative.