Living in the City of the Future

From smart home to smart city: In the future, many new technologies will change everyday lives – at home and in the cities. In the module “Living in the City of the Future” you will learn how we will get around, live, and work, and at the same time help ensure greater sustainability.

Are planning a 90-minute workshop on the subject “Living in the City of the Future”? Scroll down to find helpful ideas.

You will find specific ideas and example excercises for your workshop participants.

Please find the facilitator‘s guide for this 90-min workshop here.

Other versions of the workshop are 45 min and 25 min in length.

Smart cities

Smart cities are connected cities. In smart cities, many areas of public life are interconnected: healthcare and education, traffic and transportation systems, municipal authorities and much more. This interconnectedness not only opens up new possibilities for mobility, but also for more participation in society.

Smart living models

New, alternative life models will find their place in the cities of the future. Discover smart life models and decide for yourself: Would you like to try out one of these lifestyles?

Digital Nomads

Live and work anywhere – “Digital nomads” take advantage of high-speed Internet and the network buildouts. They work in interesting places all over the world and are always connected with their colleagues. “Get out of the rat race” is the slogan of the digital nomads, meaning escaping from the daily grind and gaining more freedom.

Space Pioneers

Back to the countryside! – That’s the space pioneers motto. It implies that these people are not left behind, but instead integrated into city life (through fast Internet and working from home, for example). This won’t only stop migration to the cities in many areas, but will also attract companies and skilled personnel (such as young entrepreneurs and doctors) to rural areas.

Brave new world?

A higher quality of life, less traffic jams and considerably more time – at first glance this sounds promising. But smart cities also bring new challenges with them. Read the case studies on the following pages and form your own impression.

Imagine this (1)

Paul lives in a smart city, where nearly all areas of life are connected with the authorities. A “social scoring system” indicates how exemplary he is as a citizen. Good behavior (such as donating to a worthy cause) is rewarded, while bad behavior (such as speeding) is penalized by deducting points. The consequence: if Paul’s score is too low, he’ll get significantly worse credit conditions from banks and might even have to fear for his job.

What sounds like something from a bad movie is already reality in Rongcheng, a coastal city in China.

Imagine this (2)

Thea lives in a smart house. In it, the fridge, pantry and other things are connected with her smartphone.

Just now, her garbage can reported that four milk cartons have been thrown away and offers to order more milk directly. And while Thea is still thinking about this, she gets the next notification: the toilet paper holder reports that the roll is running out. What’s more, Thea’s fork just teamed up with her belt to point out that she has been eating too much and too quickly. At least Thea is informed.

Smart lighting systems
A lighting system that adapts to your needs and mood? “Philipps Hue” is a smart lighting system that makes it possible. If you connect the lighting with your stereo system, the lighting automatically adapts to the sound and rhythm of the music.

Video surveillance
Smart video surveillance systems send the camera images of your home directly to the cloud – an online storage space that only you can access. You use an appropriate application (such as “Arlo” or “Bosch Smart Home”) on your smartphone to make sure that everything is all right at home – even when you’re on vacation or at work.

Smart plant irrigation
Sensors for temperature and humidity make everyday life smarter. Your plants can indicate that they have not been watered for a while by displaying a light signal, for example, helping you to care for them. If you like things even smarter, the intelligent “Smart Gardener” irrigation system could be an option. It waters garden plants autonomously, as needed. You can also control it through the app when you’re on vacation.

Intelligent language assistants
Intelligent voice assistants are becoming increasingly popular. Whether “Siri”, “Alexa”, or “Google Assistant” – when used correctly, they can make your everyday life easier. The assistants are connected with a variety of devices – such as phones, lighting, or TV sets. This means you can give them commands conveniently via voice control – for example, “Hello Magenta! Call Anna.”

Intelligent window and roller shutter systems
Window and roller shutter systems can be controlled remotely using sensors and apps. One example: When the sun is shining, the roller shutters open automatically, so the warmth can enter the home. When it gets dark or stormy, the shutters close automatically, saving energy and making your home safer.

Working from home and smart city

Working from home saves time, conserves resources, and helps the environment. Modern technologies such as video telephony and virtual reality, together with good network infrastructure, make it possible to communicate with superiors and colleagues. And if you absolutely have to meet in person, there are fewer cars on the road – because more people are working from home.

A recent study by Bitkom Research reports that approximately 30 percent of all employees occasionally work from home. But unlike in the office, working at home is often less regulated. When do you take a break? When do you stop working for the day? The boundaries between work and leisure are becoming increasingly blurred.

Go green!

Sustainable infrastructure, smart bridges, and apps that navigate you to the nearest free parking space: All of this makes traffic in the city smart. There are already numerous concepts for making the cityscape “greener”.

One example is the Danish capital of Copenhagen. Back in 2009, plans were published to turn Copenhagen into a CO2-neutral capital by 2025. To this end, the city is promoting ideas and concepts for water, energy, and mobility – together with the Carlsberg beverage brand, which is completely converting beverage production to renewable energies, among others.

On the next pages, you will find specific examples of how buildings can contribute to greater sustainability in smart cities.

Green buildings

“Green buildings” are buildings that were planned and built sustainably from the stat. Green buildings waste no water and use only as much electricity as they need.

Read more about green buildings all over the world.

Ng Teng Fong-Hospital – Singapur

The Ng Teng Fong Hospital in Singapore consists of green roofs, parks and plants. Due to the special layout of the building (sawtooth shape), the available space is used optimally. Patients can reach a green space from every floor – even if they are bedridden. This gives them a chance to relax and recharge their batteries.

Telekom-Cloud Data Center – Biere

The data center in Biere is 30 percent more energy efficient than other data centers. All of its components can be dismantled and reused. This means the data center not only has environmentally friendly operations; the entire building can also be recycled.

Eden Hall Campus – Pittsburgh

Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus produces more energy each year than it consumes. The surplus is fed into the general power grid. In addition, food for cafés and cafeterias is grown on campus and waste and wastewater are processed.

Smart government

For many people, going to a government office is an unpleasant task – one that often involves long waiting times and impractical opening hours.

With the help of modern “digital government”, citizens’ matters can be dealt with independently of time and location in the future. An online portal can be used to make complaints or inquiries – for example, changing your residential address or applying for child benefits – and to securely exchange data between public authorities. But the benefits don’t stop at more efficient services. A smart government can also encourage interaction between citizens and the government itself and increase participation.

Design your smart city

A smart city can only become reality if the people in the city are actively involved. So now it’s your turn! How would you design your city of the future? What transportation options are available in your city? What does the cityscape look like?

Keep scrolling and decide for yourself!

Question 1:


The transportation system plays an important role in smart cities. Which of the following two statements would you choose when designing your smart city?

A: Public transportation

“The public transportation of the future will get me where I need to go quickly, while protecting the environment at the asme time.”

B: Cars

“In my smart city, I would do without public transportation. With intelligent mobility concepts, buses and trains will be unnecessary and I will be more energy-efficient.”

Question 1:

Scenario A – Public transportation

Cars are not important any more in this city. Its flexible and sustainable public transportation concept allows fast, convenient travel from A to B – without traffic jams or air pollution.

This also eliminates the annoying search for a parking space in dense city traffic. Car-free zones provide more room for green spaces and leisure areas. The air quality improves, together with the general quality of life.

Question 1:

Scenario B – Cars

Hours of waiting at the bus stop or a frustrating announcement at the train station: “This train has been canceled.” In your smart city, this could all be a thing of the past soon. You will travel in autonomous electric cars that transport you from A to B in comfort.

Vienna is already leading the way – by 2050, all private means of transport will move about the city without internal combustion engines.

Question 2:


Do you want your city to become a “smart city”? Many changes will be necessary and they will also influence the cityscape. Which of the following statements do you agree with?

A: New buildings

“In my smart city, all new buildings will be built to meet the smart standard. This will ensure a sustainable supply of energy and heat, for example.”

B: Old buildings

“In my smart city, the cityscape will remain as it is. Old buildings will be retrofitted to become smart buildings.”

Question 2:

Scenario A – New buildings

The buildings in this city are “green”. That means: They were planned and built to be sustainable and energy efficient. For example, integrated green areas, and modern insulation solutions ensure sustainable construction concepts and provide for more environmental protection.

One example of this is the Convention Center in Vancouver. Its roof is completely covered with grass, making it a “green building” in the truest sense of the word.

Question 2:

Scenario B – Existing buildings

Your city shines in new splendor, but with the old, original facades. The traditional cityscape is preserved and the buildings in it have been renovated and retrofitted to meet the requirements of a smart city.

The city of Prague is an excellent example of this and shows how such a concept can actually be implemented today. The historic buildings in Prague’s city center are gradually being converted into smart buildings.

Question 3:


Approximately 220 kilograms of waste are produced per capita in Germany. Much of the waste does not decompose by itself – and ends up on the roadside, in rivers, or in the sea. But what should we do with the mountains of trash from the city of the future?

A: Zero waste

“The future is ‘zero waste’. The environment can only be sustainably protected and the problems in our oceans solved if no more waste is produced.”

B: Recycling

“There will always be garbage. That’s why it’s important to develop new ideas and concepts for recycling – such as modern waste disposal plants and alternative packaging.”

Question 3:

Scenario A – Zero waste

“Zero waste” is a lifestyle that aims to produce no waste at all. Unlike recycling, waste is avoided completely. People who live according to the “zero waste” principle deliberately avoid packaging and plastic – such as plastic bags, plastic toothbrushes, and disposable coffee cups. Many people believe that “zero waste” is the solution to our waste problems.

For this reason, ideas such as food sharing and shops without packaging are becoming increasingly popular. Apps like “Too Good To Go” and “ResQ” make food sharing much easier. The special thing about them: Not only users can offer and exchange food with each other, but also restaurants and shops. The network consumes what is otherwise thrown away.

Question 3:

Scenario B – Recycling

Packaging is sorted by material, cleaned in a specialized facility, and then reused – not a bad idea in itself. However, only about 50 percent of all plastic waste is recycled. In addition, not all plastics can be reused indefinitely.

Science and industry are addressing the topic and are already working on new, environmentally friendly materials – such as alternative packaging made of mushrooms or algae. One thing is certain: The city of the future’s waste problem will need new ideas and concepts for recycling.

The city of the future?

Your trip to the city of the future ends here. In this module, you learned about new technologies and concepts for smart cities. Pay attention to which of these aspects might be implemented right at your doorstep. And stay tuned to see what the future has in store for your city.