Germany’s, indeed Europe’s, world trade is anchored in Hamburg – home to the continent’s third-biggest container port, and the world’s third largest centre for aviation. Hamburg is also a media capital and centre of innovative technologies such as wind power. The city has a population of 1.8 million and is the economic centre of a metropolitan region with over 5 million people.
Hamburg succeeds in using its port to drive growth, in integrating the related infrastructure into the cityscape and in turning abandoned industrial sites into modern urban districts near the water.
Three of the nine major European transport routes overlap in Hamburg. Every day 320,000 people commute into the city. Hamburg port handles almost as many containers as the whole of Brazil. This freight has to pass through our city. In future we shall have to cope with even more traffic on the same amount of space. To make traffic in the city clean, safe and more efficient, we are focussing on electric vehicles and intelligent transport systems (ITS).
Hamburg Port is a smart port. Smart logistics links road, rail and shipping in the city, routing traffic around congestion, indicating available parking spaces and controlling traffic lights. SmartPORT energy is how we increase energy efficiency, reduce emissions and promote the use of renewables.
Hamburg has a first-class, environment-friendly public transport system. Buses, rail and ferry services are integrated with car rental or bicycle hire systems, and many vehicles have emission-free engines. Apps are used to purchase tickets, open cars and find connections. Our future lies in smart traffic technology with no ifs and buts, and, as a logical consequence, we are bidding to host the ITS World Congress, the biggest global event dedicated to intelligent transport systems.
Hamburg is a green, equitable, cosmopolitan city by the water. A free, egalitarian education system that develops individual skills is a fundamental part of a smart city’s infrastructure. All children have access to free day care and educational opportunities in the municipal pre-school facilities. School attendance is compulsory; at every district secondary school it is possible to gain a university-entrance qualification and the good-quality municipal universities are likewise free. No child should be left behind, we want each single one to gain a school-leaving qualification and vocational training.
Hamburg’s universities and research institutes are important partners as we progress towards the digital society. The Open Online University (HOOU) is an online teaching platform operated by six municipal universities and the University Medical Centre teaching hospital. This independent platform is firmly dedicated to open educational resources (OER). We also believe that computer aided town planning is important; this is one of the focus subjects at the HafenCity University, which has also developed a module to facilitate public participation in planning issues.
We want all our citizens to have job opportunities that allow them to provide for themselves and their families. That means that good housing must be available in sufficient quantity.
In German cities, most of the residents live in rented properties. Thanks to a well-developed legal body of tenants’ rights, no-one has a problem with that. This is also the position in Hamburg. 75 percent of the apartments and houses are rented. And an average rented flat in our city is 75 square meters big. On an international scale, average rents are very affordable at about eight euros per square metre. Obviously, that does not apply to new buildings, as construction costs are high. Therefore we are calling for new apartments that the average wage-earner can rent for just over six euros per square metre.
Five years ago we founded the “Alliance for Homes”, a voluntary association of local government departments, housing construction firms and tenant associations. We started with the aim of building thousands of apartments per year, and the Alliance has now agreed to increase the already-high building volume. One third of the new homes are “social housing”, meaning that we subsidize the new-build project in order to keep the rent affordable for people with low incomes.
Hamburg is an attractive city, with a pleasant residential environment and a large number of workplaces. We are using the city’s economic prosperity to spur inclusive growth and innovation that will, in turn, empower residents to continue adding to the vibrancy of the city.