Digital image of the city to enable new mobile-based services
5G project as an important boost for the Hannover Smart City
Hannover is taking the next step toward becoming a Smart City: The state capital has now joined forces with Deutsche Messe AG and other partners from industry and research to launch the project “5GAPS”. It is supported by extensive federal funding. The plan is to use the new mobile communications standard, which allows transmitting large amounts of data, to manage and develop public spaces in a digitally flexible way. The test site is the Hannover trade fair grounds with its 5G campus network.
The abbreviation “5GAPS” stands for “5G Access to Public Spaces”. The long-term goal of the project is to reproduce Hannover digitally and in real time in a multidimensional spatiotemporal coordinate system. This will create a dynamic digital twin, so to speak, of urban outdoor areas as well as indoor areas of buildings or commercially used halls.
The starting signal was given at a press conference on Monday, 14 February by Lord Mayor Belit Onay, Managing Director Doris Petersen from the hannoverimpuls business development agency, the CEO of Deutsche Messe AG, Dr. Jochen Köckler, and, on behalf of Leibniz University and Hannover University of Applied Sciences, Professor Monika Sester from the Institute of Cartography and Geoinformatics.
Using and managing public spaces more intelligently
The virtual digital twin maps the environment in real time and anticipates changes in state through learning algorithms. The data platform can be used in a variety of ways in the future: for example, for the highly accurate operation of autonomous vehicles or for the localization and tracking of goods. The platform can support navigation in buildings, optimize production processes, visualize planning, or even be helpful in reserving parking spaces for sales booths or moving trucks. Tourist offers such as adventure tours through historic Hannover or the Herrenhäuser Gardens are conceivable. The aim is to benefit all citizens, companies, logistics providers, transport service providers, planning offices, the city administration, as well as security forces such as the fire department.
The range of application for the idea is almost endless. Some use cases – for example, when it comes to controlling a machine – only require three-dimensional coordinates and data on the current state of the environment. Other applications extend the perception of reality by adding digital images and superimposing them on reality. This so-called augmented reality then requires a smartphone, a tablet, or appropriate glasses. The digital twin is intended to be openly accessible and to get interfaces for developers from the start-up scene, for established companies, and for research.
For Lord Mayor Belit Onay, the project is a boost for Hannover’s Smart City: “The development and expansion of digital infrastructure is an important location factor. Together with our strong network, we want to test the possibilities of the key technology 5G on site. The funding project will enable the state capital to further expand its expertise in digital urban development. This will benefit businesses, research, and the people of Hannover.”
Trade fair as a real laboratory for an ambitious project
The first step will be to digitally map parts of the trade fair grounds in order to gain experience, develop the software for the digital twin, and test applications. If this is successful, the digital replication of the first areas of Hannover will follow in later steps. Dr. Jochen Köckler, CEO of Deutsche Messe AG, expressly welcomes the fact that the trade fair will take on a pioneering role as a testing ground for 5GAPS. “As a partner from the very beginning, we are delighted to be able to provide the real laboratory for this ambitious project with the infrastructure of the trade fair grounds and our private 5G campus network. As of today, we have equipped a total of six halls, all streets, all parking areas, and the entire outdoor area on our grounds with the 5G standard of Deutsche Telekom. The rest of the trade fair grounds with all halls and buildings will be successively connected to the super-fast mobile communications generation. Innovative applications involving research, industry, and public administration are therefore a perfect fit for our 5G smart venue”, emphasizes Köckler.
Universities as central drivers
The central drivers of the project are the universities in Hannover. Leibniz University Hannover is represented by various research institutes, including L3S, Geodesy, and Business Informatics. In addition, there is the Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Arts, as well as the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE from Kaiserslautern. “We bring our research and experience in the dynamic mapping of environments to the project. This will allow us to create a real laboratory for the benefit of citizens in order to test more flexible management and use of spaces”, says Prof. Monika Sester from the Institute of Cartography and Geoinformatics.
Strengthening the local digital industry
Doris Petersen from the business development agency hannoverimpuls sees a central strengthening of the local digital industry: “5G is the ticket for new technologies and digital services in the Hannover region and makes our location fit for the future. The team from the business development agency is working full steam ahead on building a community with 5G programming competence in order to create substantial added value for everyone at this business location”, Petersen emphasizes.
Federal government provides four million euros in funding
The 5GAPS initiative in Hannover is backed by four million euros in federal funding. The city of Hannover, hannoverimpuls, Deutsche Messe AG, and companies from Hannover had taken part in a 5G innovation competition organized by the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV) and submitted a project application in August 2020. The application was successful. The BMDV recently granted funding approval retroactive to 1 January 2022. In addition to Hannover, another 70 cities and regions participated in the competition, developing innovative concepts for 5G applications and business models. Around 50 projects from all over Germany were selected, which will now be implemented with financial support from the federal government. Hannover is among them. The 5GAPS project will run until 31 December 2024.