The German commercial hub of Hamburg has unveiled ambitious plans to transform itself into one of Europe's preeminent "smart cities."

The City of Hamburg and US communications giant Cisco have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the goal of radically enhancing networking and connectivity systems in the German commercial hub.

Under the MoU, Hamburg will have access to Cisco’s Smart+Connected Communities (S+CC) reference architecture, devised specifically to cater to the needs of urban populations and will enjoy Cisco’s assistance in the development of a digital agenda.

Frank Horch, Hamburg’s Senator for Economic Affairs, Transport and Innovation, hailed the potentially revolutionary impact that enhanced connectivity could have on the functionality and operation of the city.

“By signing the Memorandum of Understanding we are preparing our city for the future,” said Horch. “Future possibilities through connecting people, processes, data and things will not only revolutionise cites and communities, but will also bring additional convenience for citizens.”

Bringing Cisco on board to improve municipal communications is one of just a swathe of initiatives launched by Hamburg to transform itself into a smart city possessed of enhanced sustainability and efficiency.

These include the introduction of smart street lighting, a smart traffic system for optimising traffic movement and providing advance detection of untoward contingencies, environmental and infrastructure sensing, and a virtual citizen services system which is capable of providing administrative services via remote video kiosks.

Hamburg’s HafenCity initiative is currently the biggest inner-city development project in Europe, and envisages the incorporation of e-mobility solutions to help reduce traffic problems, as well as make available a greater range of transportation options including electric automobiles and bicycles deployed in a car-sharing model.

Efforts to transform Hamburg into a smart city also encompass its historic port, which has played a vital role in its evolution into a trading and commercial hub.

“The port is at the heart of Hamburg’s economy,” said Jens Meier, Chairman of the Management Board of Hamburg Port Authority (HPA). “Over the next years, we will be developing the Port of Hamburg into a smartPORT in order to further increase the efficiency of the current infrastructure and quality of services.”

Measures will include a parking space control system for trucks and loaded close to the port, which will work in tandem with an integrated traffic management system to optimise vehicle flows, as well as devices to monitor and analyse emissions levels in order to forecast noise levels, temperature, humidity and pollution with greater accuracy.