Living well
in the city

Just imagine, you open the window of your city apartment in the morning – and instead of traffic noise and exhaust fumes, you’re greeted with fresh air and birdsong. On your way to work, traffic is flowing smoothly and you register your new electric car via smartphone – without any paperwork or lengthy waiting times at the registration office.

SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities

With our measures, we are contributing to the 11th goal of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda.

Back home, your apartment is preheated to a pleasant temperature. Your tomatoes on the balcony have plenty of water. And on your evening stroll through the park, the street lamps light up just where you are.

That’s how life in a smart city could look. Digital solutions improve the quality of life and ensure that urban life becomes more sustainable by reducing energy consumption, light and noise pollution, and lowering CO2 emissions. And this is urgently needed since cities are responsible for more than three-fourths of global CO2 emissions according to a 2019 study by the “Coalition for urban transformation”. That’s why it’s a good thing that smart cities are not a distant vision of the future. Below, we present some exciting solutions that already exist today.

Shining smartly

At night, our cities beam light thousands of meters into the night sky, creating fascinating scenes when viewed from above. Seeing this, it’s easy to forget that lighting consumes vast amounts of energy. What’s more, artificially bright nights disturb the natural behavior of nocturnal insects, which means death for many of them. And all that light can also have negative effects on us humans – by causing sleep disturbances, for instance. Smart streetlights equipped with sensors from Deutsche Telekom can reduce these negative effects. They only turn on when a pedestrian or car approaches and are only as bright as they need to be. They can also serve as a basis for charging stations, air quality sensors, cameras, or WiFi hotspots.

Shaping the city of tomorrow is a joint effort

Making the city of the future a reality requires lots of different stakeholders to work together. After all, sustainable urban development goes beyond technical matters to encompass economic, political, organizational, and cultural issues. That’s why we have joined the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft’s “Morgenstadt” (“City of the Future”) initiative – a network that brings together science, research, politics, and business. As a corporate partner, we are actively helping shape this network to boost sustainability and improve quality of life in cities. Our shared objective is to devise new concepts and strategies for smart cities. As part of this endeavor, we want to create financially viable solutions that open up new opportunities for major cities and rural regions alike.

Tackling the flood of data

Without data, everything would grind to a halt. It provides the basis for all smart city solutions. Yet data handling poses a number of challenges for cities and regions. Together with our partners, we are supporting municipalities in all manner of areas – be it technology, infrastructure, data flow management, transparency, or data security – through our involvement in the data competence center for cities and regions (Datenkompetenzzentrum für Städte und Regionen, DKSR). The DKSR is a joint initiative of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Urban Software Institute, axxessio, and ourselves. The project centers around a neutral, secure open-source data platform including operation and hosting that is also affordable for small and medium-sized cities. Through the DKSR, cities and regions can access standardized solutions and a large ecosystem of quality-assured providers.

The Co-Creation toolbox

There is no set formula for developing smart cities, because every city and region is different. That makes it all the more important to integrate different perspectives, understand needs as best as possible, and harness the creativity of lots of different people. This is where the Co-Creation toolbox from Deutsche Telekom comes in, helping municipalities, citizens, and businesses shape their smart city together right from the get-go.

The future is already here

We are involved in smart city projects in over 20 European cities. Several examples illustrate the diversity of solutions for the digital city:


New technologies are taking center-stage in “Digital City Darmstadt”, where we initiated two co-creation projects in 2020. As a result of this, we are gaining important experience with the new 5G test track as we trial a semi-automated streetcar, among other things. We are also testing the use of artificial intelligence in areas such as health care.


How can digital applications prove successful in rural areas? Our smart city experts are helping answer this question in the pilot project “Smart Fichtelgebirge” (“Smart Fichtel Mountains”). Citizens are being called on to contribute their ideas and wishes for a sustainable, smart region. “Smart Fichtelgebirge” is part of the federal project “Smart Cities made in Germany”.

Bonn (Germany)

Working in partnership with the City of Bonn, we have already connected together numerous elements – including street lights, garbage containers, and sensors that monitor air quality. Above and beyond this, we have installed the first CityTree in the Rheinland. The CityTree uses moss to help filter particulate matter out of the air. We are also working intensively with the City of Bonn to devise elaborate smart city strategies.


At the Birkenfeld Environmental Campus (Umwelt-Campus Birkenfeld) of the Trier University of Applied Sciences, a “Model Street” shows how smart street lighting can combine strategic sustainability policy with smart climate protection and regional value creation.


With the help of Telekom Romania, Bucharest is using smart city solutions specifically for visitor management at Tineretului Park. As a result, the city can offer its park visitors better services – including smart parking, free internet hotspots, improved security, and smart lighting.

Digitalization is going official

Arranging an appointment at the registry office over the phone? Printing out your driving license application and filling it out on paper? In the future, such scenarios are set to be a thing of the analog past in Germany, as the Online Access Act aims to make as many administrative services as possible available online. Together with the German Association of Towns and Municipalities (DStGB), we are working on solutions to bring administrative authorities throughout Germany into the digital here and now – and make citizens’ day-to-day lives easier.

Among these solutions is the “Citykey” smart city app that pools public services and offerings in an app and allows users to take care of numerous official procedures digitally. Users can configure their settings in line with their interests to find out about current events and leisure activities. Library and bike sharing services can be incorporated, too. Rather than being developed afresh for every city, Citykey is based on a standard solution. The app has been released since 2021.


55 percent of the world’s population are now city dwellers, 80 percent of whom live in cities that do not meet the air quality guidelines of the World Health Organization.

It’s time to clear the air

Today, 55 percent of the world’s population are city dwellers, 80 percent of whom live in cities that do not meet the air quality guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO), according to its data from 2016. This has an impact on our health. Poisonous particles can not only lead to pulmonary diseases, but also be responsible for heart conditions or strokes. The expansion of e-mobility is a key approach for improving air quality. By harnessing our company’s Comfort Charge network of rapid charging stations for electric cars, we aim to move e-mobility up a gear in Germany too. We are also increasingly using alternative drive systems in our own company fleet. This is just one of many measures we have put in place that have allowed us to reduce our fleet’s CO2 emissions by more than 65 percent since 2008. You can find out more about how we contribute to sustainable mobility here.
Our CityTree is another solution that can help improve air quality. We developed it in collaboration with Green Energy Solutions. The four-meter-high “tree” uses the ability of moss to filter particulate matter. With around 1 700 moss cultures, it reduces fine particulate air pollution in the environment by up to 80 percent. But it can do more: It has a pleasant cooling effect, contains a WiFi hotspot, measures the air quality, and offers a space to sit and relax for a while. The CityTree therefore combines the benefits of plants with those of the Internet of Things (IoT). We have already installed this all-rounder in Darmstadt and in front of the Deutsche Telekom Headquarters in Bonn.

Take a deep breath

Developing further measures for enhancing air quality in cities calls for a solid database. Fortunately, that is exactly what Germany’s first digital monitoring network for air pollutants, which we are operating in tandem with the “Digital City Darmstadt”, provides. At a total of twelve monitoring points, sensors continuously collect valuable, real-time information on the quality of air, such as the levels of particulate matter and nitrogen, and cover more or less the entire city. The stations are part of the street cabinets from Deutsche Telekom, that is to say the gray curbside boxes. This means the monitoring system, which we developed with the Fraunhofer institute for applied sensor technology in Coburg, does not require any complex or costly infrastructure building work.

Smart, but secure

Digitally connected cities are prone to cyberattacks. Data security therefore plays a decisive role in smart cities, too. With our integrated Cyber Defense and Security Operations Center, the largest and most modern in Europe, we are setting standards in terms of public security for smart cities and regions. We are bringing together measures to prevent, detect, and combat security incidents. In this way, we can safeguard digital infrastructures, data, and privacy in the smart city.

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