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City Lights: Peter Dommermuth, head of office, Environmental Agency, City of Frankfurt

SmartCitiesWorld talks to Peter Dommermuth, Head of office, Environmental Agency, City of Frankfurt, about how the city is placing technology at the heart of its environmental strategy and how he could have pursued the life of a journalist.


Frankfurt was recently highlighted as one of the most eco-friendly cities in which to work, with a third of its citizens cycling to and from work. The city has a wide range of environmentally friendly policies in place, from requirements for all new buildings to meet strict energy use guidelines to the promotion of electric cars.


Smart Cities World: What is the main purpose of your role?


Peter Dommermuth: Since 2013 I am head of office in the Environment Department of the city of Frankfurt am Main. My colleagues and I deal with all issues of environment, natural resources, nature and waste management in a growing city.


SCW: What does the term ’smart city’ mean to you?


PD: A smart city uses data and analytics of new information and communication technologies for the purpose of integrated urban development. I like the idea to encourage important goals for sustainable development with the smart city approach, such as climate protection, resource efficiency and increasing quality of life.


SCW: What are some of the key milestones/initiatives in your smart city journey so far?


PD: In 2019 the city of Frankfurt ran a multi-stage process with all departments with several roundtables and sessions to exchange views on our smart city projects. A lot of new smart city ideas came up. Right now one focus in the environment department is the use of specific sensors for efficient use of resources, for example smart irrigation of city trees, recording of garbage can fill levels.

MAINOVA, the Frankfurt energy service company, recently launched a citywide Long Range Wide Area network, which is a highly efficient radio technology for sensors.

"Acceptance of policies by the population is a particular challenge"

SCW: What is your number one priority right now?


PD: It is very important to me to stand up for providing nature and environment with enough space in a growing city.


SCW: What do you see as your biggest achievement since you started the role?


PD: Today, the issues of urban climate and biodiversity have a different status in urban society than when I started my role in 2013.


SCW: What is the best part of the job?


PD: I am allowed to work on a huge variety of topics with committed people every day.


SCW: What is your biggest challenge?


PD: In general and with focus on smart cities initiatives, acceptance of the population is a particular challenge. We should always think a sense of responsibility in handling personal data along with transparency. Crucial are also extensive investments in digitalisation and education and training of our employees.


SCW: If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing?


PD: As a teenager I dreamed of a career as a professional athlete, after that as a sports journalist. Later my interest in the city, urban development and city administration grew. There I am now and I feel very comfortable in my role.


SCW: What keeps you awake at night?


PD: We do a lot for the development and maintenance of quality of life in terms of environmental and nature conservation. Still I am concerned with the question of whether it might not be enough.


SCW: If you could make one change in your city tomorrow and money was no object, what would you do?


I would adapt the whole city to climate change to make Frankfurt am Main more climate-resilient.


Facts about Frankfurt:

  • Germany’s financial centre has been home to the European Central Bank since 1998.
  • More than 300,000 visitors from over 100 countries visit its annual book fair.
  • Among Frankfurt’s most famous residents are the writers Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Anne Frank, and the film composer Hans Zimmer.

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