With linked data, fewer traffic jams

Its development is about to be completed: A new digital platform in Darmstadt provides information on the flow of traffic, the garbage in the parks and the occupancy of municipal offices.

Dense: traffic jams like this one here on Rheinstrasse in Darmstadt should occur less frequently thanks to intelligent use of data

Dhe city of Darmstadt continues to rely on digitization: On January 1, 2021, a city data platform will go online. “A lot of new, valuable data is generated from sensors, processes and procedures,” announced the city at the presentation of the platform. And because it fits the topic and the current pandemic time, the city held the press conference on the platform not only live, but also on the Internet. Participants were able to connect from outside via a link published in advance. “For the first time in this form,” said Darmstadt’s Lord Mayor Jochen Partsch (The Greens) as a greeting. Because of Corona, the city had asked the 20 or more journalists to participate online, and representatives from the companies involved did the same.

Because even without a virus crisis, a lot should be possible online in the future, and the new platform should play a decisive role in this. Partsch explained that it will collect and network data streams from the 14 fields of action in the digital city of Darmstadt, including the fields of mobility, the environment and administration. The digital city is an urban society that is dedicated to coordinating projects.

Who benefits everything from the data

As a result, it will not only benefit the residents of the city, according to Partsch. Administration, city economics and other administrative areas could also access the digital information. Two areas are planned, one public and one internal, to which only municipal employees and institutions have access. In the future, the public area should show citizens, among other things, in real time how high the number of visits to offices are and how many callers are still waiting in the queue of the citizen telephone. Then your own errands or calls could be arranged. The platform, which by the way will probably not be available as an app version, can also report which underfloor dumpsters are overcrowded in the city.

“For the first time in this form”: Darmstadt, where Lord Mayor Partsch rules, presents the new data platform both live and digitally.  (Archive image)
“For the first time in this form”: Darmstadt, where Lord Mayor Partsch rules, presents the new data platform both live and digitally. (Archive image): Image: Frank Röth

For the waste disposal company EAD as one of the professional users, other possible uses should also arise later, as René Kirch from the municipal IT department explained: If there is an increased number of people on a weekend, for example in Herrngarten, and the platform registers this, that is one Advice to send cleaners to the park. Residents could also provide further data on the “litter condition” in Darmstadt’s parks.

Around 360 cameras and 16 environmental sensors

The volume of traffic in the city should also be registered via the platform and regulated if necessary, as it was said. For this purpose, among other things, data from environmental measurements would be linked with information from the traffic computer of the mobility office. If the environmental pollution increases in certain places, the traffic can be controlled accordingly in order to optimize the air quality. The city generates data from around 360 cameras, among other things, which, according to the Digital City Darmstadt website, record the traffic in the city, and 16 environmental sensors such as those on Hügelstrasse.

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The city says that anyone who worries about possible traceability in view of the data collected can rest assured. “No personal data is processed from the sensors and processes,” Partsch emphasized. One does not want to provide information for economically interested institutions. Rather, the data obtained should be stored on servers in the Darmstadt data center and in a cloud that complies with German data protection regulations. Which data ends up where depends on how they are processed and what content they have.

The data platform, which Partsch described as the “heart of the digital city”, is about to be completed. The installation and operation of the platform cost a total of around six million euros, calculated over five years until 2026. The funds are available in the city budget. Funding from the State of Hesse amounting to almost 800,000 euros is planned for the first year. The city council had decided on the establishment at the beginning of September.