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AMM 2019: Discussing the City of Tomorrow


Takeaways from the Conference during AmCham Germany's Annual Membership Meeting 2019


This year's Annual Membership Meeting was accompanied by the conference "Urban Supply Chain The City of Tomorrow in a Globalized World" that presented the audience with business examples and innovative solutions regarding smart cities. Four best practice sessions and a keynote by Hamburg's First Mayor Dr. Peter Tschentscher were among the highlights of the event.

AmCham Germany has been known as an institution that tackles future concerns and global matters, all the while finding transatlantic solutions to the above. Therefore, it was obvious for smart cities to feature in this year's AmCham Germany Annual Membership Meeting. Around 250 members travelled to Hamburg on May 17th to enjoy enlightened exchanges through several panel discussions high up above the city. The 23rd floor of the EMPORIO offered a magnificent vista of Hamburg a city that is already successfully combining older infrastructure with future technologies.

Hamburg's Smart City Plans Focus on its Harbor

With some pride and perhaps some regret, Hamburg's First Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Dr. Peter Tschentscher, who joined the meeting for a keynote speech, noted that Hamburg is "the largest city in Europe that is not also a capital." Hamburg's intiative to become a smart city is naturally also focused on its harbor. The city hosts Germany's largest seaport and the third busiest container port in Europe, after Rotterdam and Antwerp, generating $25B (€21.8B) nationwide. A major transportation center, Hamburg's port welcomes about 10,000 ocean-going ships every year, more than 1,300 freight trains per week (more than 10% of all rail freight journeys in Germany start or finish there) and around 40,000 trucks every day.

Hamburg's port developed a smart solution to the traffic jams witnessed by truck drivers outside the gates. "We used to have a regular traffic jam alert coming from the port," Tschentscher said. "Trucks used to arrive early in the morning and wait all day." Now the drivers get a message sent to their smart phones with a 60-minute time slot during which they can pick up their goods. Thanks to this innovation, the traffic jams became a thing of the past.

Best Practice Sessions on Clean Energy and Data Impact in Smart Cities

During the best practice sessions, AmCham Germany's members had the opportunity to provide information on how their companies are offering innovations to establish smarter cities and/or their specific contributions to the City of Hamburg.

Representing Shell's German branch, ITS Network Manager Hans Stapelfeldt and Business Manager for Energy and Transition Michael Pomrehn extrapolated on the opportunities and challenges regarding cleaner energy for mobility. Stapelfeldt referred to Shell's valid ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems and Services) solutions as "a way to prevent the climate change emergency." Shell Germany is starting an impressive initiative this year: a total of 50 high-powered electric vehicle charging stations will be installed in the entire country, and with a charging capacity of 150 kW and more, the actual charging time will be reduced to a few minutes. Equinix Germany another member company provides a centralized interconnection hub for many regional and multinational companies and diverse business ecosystems that are looking for an expanded global footprint and low-latency network connectivity to customers and supply chain partners. Equinix's Global Solutions Architect, Klaas Mertens, presented his enterprise as the "data port" for effective connectivity between different ecosystems of players. He also elaborated on ways to turn the Port of Hamburg into a "smart harbor."

As an international port, HH1 will make a strategic hub for submarine cable landing systems, such as Equinix's partner Eastern Light, which provides a gateway to subsea cable routes across Europe and other providers with routes to APAC and the United States. The Hamburg metropolitan region generated a total GDP of $172B (€149.85) in 2016, making it the third biggest economic agglomeration in Germany. The addition of Equinix HH1 will give Equinix customers the opportunity to operate on a single, interconnected global platform to make these critical connections. It will be able to process, store and distribute larger volumes of latency-sensitive data and applications at the digital edge, and it will be closer to end users and local markets.

Mark Jenkinson, head of Siemens' AMO Cities/City Director of London, described the role of Siemens as a key company that prepares cities for the 4.0 age, where the efficient usage of data can improve our quality of life significantly. "Public-private partnerships help to create the perfect place of the future," Jenkinson explained. Siemens is also supporting the Singapore port system in order for it to become a digital hub. The Port of Singapore relies on automation and digitalization to achieve peak values in productivity, safety and efficiency. At PSA International's Pasir Panjang Terminal, one of the world's busiest transshipment hubs, 56 stacking cranes are handling containers without human intervention.

Hartfrid Wolff, Senior Manager of KPMG AG Germany, dove into critical success factors that turn cities into smart cities. "Every city needs an individual strategy", he explained. The kind of "smartness" that changes the life of a resident in Japan is different from what constitutes a life-changing tool in Nigeria. His approach also entails a holistic approach. "Cities don't work like corporations. They tend to be siloed so departments don't work on solutions together. Therefore, city leaders can't take the lead in fully vetting, designing and overseeing new technologies and business models." Every city is in need of its very own technology partners.

Peter Beyer on Current Challenges in Transatlantic Relations

During the evening, AmCham Germany's members gathered at Hamburg's International Maritime Museum for a closing dinner and to reflect on the new input and topics that were discussed earlier in the day.

Rufus Steinkrauss of Rufus Steinkrauss Personal GmbH in Hamburg and a member of AmCham Germany for the past 14 years praised the event for its success. "AmCham Germany is becoming younger and far more dynamic. I had a great time at this year's AMM."

"This year's meeting was very refreshing and very relevant," Dr. Andreas Lohbeck of CMS Hasche Sigle Partnership, Association of Lawyers and Tax Consultants, in Stuttgart said. "I realized how many of us don't yet have the subject of smart cities on our radar, even though it's very relevant at the same time."

Shell's Business Manager for Energy and Transition and one of the best session panelists, Michael Pomrehn, applauded this year's AMM for being "very beneficial". "The event's lineup was outstanding. Congrats to AmCham Germany."

Ulla Maren Kaeding of Ford in Cologne, as well as Sandra Horst, a consultant in auditing and banking in Frankfurt, were also full of praise for this year's AMM. "A lot has changed at AmCham Germany," both unanimously agreed. "The content is very relevant and relatable, since the change in infrastructure concerning smart cities is affecting our businesses. We also appreciate the work AmCham Germany is doing in terms of maintaining US-German business and trade ties."

An emotional plea for the relevance of above-mentioned US-German relations was delivered by Peter Beyer, Member of the German Parliament and Coordinator of Transatlantic Cooperation of the Federal Foreign Office. "We are confronted with some pressure from across the pond", he explained. "People here and there expect us to face the difficulties and present solutions" a plea that is falling on fertile soil when it comes to the persistent work of AmCham Germany servicing its multiple stakeholders in transatlantic relations.

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