Cisco to pour millions into Berlin to turn German capital into a smart city

As part of a national effort to digitize Germany’s infrastructure, the capital city has been extremely proactive in making its utilities and services smart

Cisco will help Berlin build an mHealth platform in their latest project to turn the German capital into Europe’s leading smart city. In a deal announced over the weekend, Cisco and the Berlin Senate Department for Economics signed off on a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will cover telemedicine (mHealth), cyber security and of course building a general network infrastructure to support the platform. It will provide easy access to patient data for hospitals, general practitioners, specialists, clinics and emergency services.

While it isn’t known exactly how much Cisco and the city will invest in this project, it is part of a much larger package wherein Cisco will invest $500 million in the national Deutschland Digital initiative over the next three years that will build infrastructure across the country for various services and push the testing of new communications technologies like 5G networks.

Anil Menon, Global President Smart+Connected Communities at Cisco, is working on a variety of similar projects around the world on behalf of the corporate giant. He is also vice chair of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Agenda Council on Future of Cities.

“We are proud to support Berlin in taking this important step,” said Cisco’s head of German operations Oliver Tuszik in a press release. “Digitization is a great opportunity for the city to benefit even more from its attractiveness. By signing this Memorandum of Understanding, we want to contribute to improving the quality of life for all citizens and give the Berlin economy an additional boost.”

A greater infrastructure for smart Berlin will include environmental and weather data, traffic information, and communications for police and fire. Senator Cornelia Yzer, who signed the MoU on behalf of the city, said the platform should “contribute to providing more efficient medical care to refugees,” and promote other projects for “digitization.”

Berlin’s race to be the smartest city in Europe

Berlin is gearing up for a bonanza of smart city, connected cars and upgraded digital infrastructure projects (Public Domain image by LoboStudioHamburg via Pixabay)

As part of that national effort to digitize Germany’s infrastructure, the capital city has been extremely proactive in making its utilities and services intelligent. Berlin announced a master plan called Smart City Berlin 2030 in April last year. That strategy includes the Smart City Berlin Network to run pilot projects throughout the municipality, “citizens’ right” to personal data security, a plan to build thousands of affordable new units with possible smart home integration for lighting and appliances, and simultaneously speeding up and simplifying the city’s bureaucracy.

“As Berlin sees it, cities which are viable are those which achieve a significantly higher or stable quality of life while using the same or a lower level of resources. This can only be achieved by means of an urban management which, by using innovative information and communication technologies…” the municipality’s Smart City Strategy reads.

It’s not the only city in the world pushing for new smart city infrastructure: Tel Aviv’s sister city Ramat Gan recently hosted a smart city competition, Jerusalem is upgrading to smart public utilities, Hyderabad recently opened an IoT and smart city accelerator, and Hong Kong is designating specific neighborhoods for smart city experiments.

The German capital has a soaring reputation as the hottest tech hub in Europe right now. There’s a growing e-bike industry, a flourishing culture for car-sharing and the Berlin startup scene even rivals London. Startupbootcamp has run its Smart Transportation & Energy accelerator program in the city for the last couple of years with plans to focus on the connected cars and automated vehicles space in the next stage of the program. It’s worth noting that Cisco is also an investor in Startupbootcamp, recently infusing $2.5 million into their London-based IoT accelerator.

The Smart City Strategy aims to recruit organizational partners, like Cisco, to make their Jetson-like metropolis a reality. But according to the city’s strategists, it will be a collective effort rather than a mayoral one that will get a city of futuristic services and flying cars off the ground.

“The most important partners are, however, the Berliners themselves because the overriding goal of Smart City Berlin is to further increase the quality of life of the Berlin population and the liveability of their city.”

Original Article –

Why German Housing Is Europe’s Best Property Market

The takeover party is over. Revelers are nursing wounds following a brawl. Stand back from the fray, however, and German housing still looks an unusually healthy asset class.

The shindig started three years ago, when two large portfolios of German homes— LEG Immobilien and Deutsche Annington, subsequently renamed Vonovia —were floated on the Frankfurt stock exchange by their private-equity owners.

A race to consolidate the fragmented sector ensued. A third company, Deutsche Wohnen, bought Berlin specialist GSW, while Vonovia bolstered its position as market leader by paying €3.9 billion ($4.4 billion) for another smaller rival. With share prices soaring, management teams and investors alike were having a fine old time.

The trouble started last September, when Deutsche Wohnen—now the number two player—made a bullish bid for LEG, the number three. LEG was game, but Deutsche Wohnen called off the deal to defend itself against a €14 billion hostile offer from Vonovia.

Deutsche Wohnen rushed through a €1.1 billion acquisition widely seen as an expensive poison pill. Vonovia’s bid fell through when it was supported by just 30% of shareholders in a vote last month.

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The world’s best cities for millennials

From affordable housing and transport to thriving job markets and culture, here’s our pick of the hottest spots for a good life


Millennials are a boomerang generation. The number of 20- to 34-year-olds living at home with their parents increased by 25% between 1996 and 2013 in the UK. Last year, 58% of 20- to 24-year-olds, 21% of 25- to 29-year-olds, and 8% of 30- to 34-year-olds in the UK lived with parents. It’s a similar story in the United States, where one in five people in their 20s and early 30s live with their parents.

But when the family home is not an option, where should millennials head to make their money go further? YouthfulCities, a global index founded by consultancy firm Decode, ranked 55 cities on their affordability in 2015, using a range of statistics including, memorably, the number of hours needed to work at the local minimum wage to buy a dozen eggs (Detroit is top for egg affordability).

When it comes to rent, Berlin ranks no 1 among the 55 cities despite a 28% rise between 2007 and 2014, and the efforts of some landlords to beat recent rent cap legislation. Even so, according to living index Numbeo, a one-bed apartment in Berlin’s city centre will, on average, set you back £510 a month, compared with £1,680 in London.

Berlin is the best city for rent.
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Berlin is the best city for rent. Photograph: Matthias Haker/Getty Images/Flickr RF

In the US, a one-bed apartment in Dallas’s city centre costs an average of £860 a month; in New York, it is £2,070. Millennials take note: Dallas is now the third fastest growing city in the US, and has a vibrant young community, with 25% of its population in the millennial age bracket, which is unusually high for American cities.

On the other side of the world, Japan is surprisingly cheap: Osaka’s low city-centre rental fees of £410 a month may explain why Airbnb has seen such astronomical interest. The YouthfulCities index maintains it is less affordable than Tokyo, but that appears to be because of higher average costs when dining out, going to the cinema and paying for standing taxi fares.

Johannesburg is one of the most affordable of the sub-saharan African cities on the index: the average cost of renting a one-bed apartment is less than £263 a month. Despite moving 12 places up on Mercer’s latest cost of living ranking, Johannesburg is still the world’s 16th cheapest city to live in – and its wider province, Gauteng, is one of the powerhouses that helped South Africa avoid economic collapse last year.


With fees for three-year undergraduate degrees costing up to £27,000 and maintenance support grants axed, one third of UK-based students aged 16 to 30 now consider undertaking some form of overseas study. But where should they go?

Higher education experts QS have compiled a list of the world’s top cities to be a student. The 2016 winner is Paris, which retains its place at the top for the fourth year running thanks to a high concentration of internationally recognised institutions, low tuition fees and strong employer activity.

Students at UCLA.
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Students at UCLA. Photograph: Richard T Nowitz/Corbis


In the “student mix” category, four Australian cities – Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide – are in the top 10, based on their high undergraduate populations and levels of tolerance and social inclusion for their share of the 272,000 international students enrolled in higher education in the country.

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