Today, 55% of the world’s population live in cities. These city dwellers number 4.2 billion, up from just 750 million in 1950. This is good economic news for workers, as their productivity increases when they move from rural to urban areas. The consequences of this rapid urbanisation, however, can be fatal. Cities have become congested and air quality has deteriorated to dangerous levels.
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A full 3.8 million premature deaths a year are attributed to air pollution. This is by no means limited to the developing world. 80% of global city dwellers live in cities which fail to comply with World Health Organisation air quality guideline levels. In London, citizens’ lives are shortened by an estimated nine to 16 months as a direct result of poor air quality.
Cutting healthcare bills and making cities a more attractive place to live are a big incentive for municipalities. Here, technology will play a crucial role. Cleaner cars and better urban transport networks will no doubt be part of a multi-faceted solution to this life-threatening issue. Many cities and towns in Germany are now implementing smart solutions to optimise air quality. For these “Smart City” solutions, cities need technological partners. That’s where Telekom comes in.
A green clean-air solution
This year, Telekom installed its first Smart City Tree in Darmstadt. Containing around 1,700 moss cultures, the four-metre high tree filters air in built-up areas. One tree reduces small-particle air pollution in the surrounding area by 30% on average. By creating a co-creation space for partners and the Darmstadt local authority, Telekom was able to understand the city’s needs and develop an appropriate product for that city. The City Tree was also equipped with Telekom’s network infrastructure, improving network coverage in a built-up area of the city. Telekom will install more City Trees in cities around Germany in the coming year. This will make a real contribution to reducing air pollution, improving citizens’ health and making cities more liveable.
Smart traffic management
Smart management of traffic will also play a crucial role in reducing air pollution within cities. For this, Telekom offers the “Park and Joy” solution. Vehicles looking for a parking space are thought to make up one third of urban traffic. By efficiently guiding traffic to available parking spaces, the Telekom solution makes a considerable contribution to reducing congestion and improving air quality for all. Park and Joy represents a next generation tool for our smart cities. Currently, the application is active in over 100 German cities. More will follow in 2020.