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Pioneers 2018 Air
Smart City

The air around us

How smart solutions are improving quality of life around the world

Clock 8 minutes

Clean air is an essential part of a high quality of life. Yet, people all over the world suffer from air pollution, particularly in major cities. The reasons are diverse — but there are solutions to the problem.

Making cities smart and clean

The Mega City Tianjin, China, from a bird's eye view
With over fifteen million inhabitants, Tianjin (China) is a megacity.

According to an investigation by the World Health Organization, 90 percent of the Earth’s population suffer from the consequences of poor air quality. The worst conditions can be found in the poorer states of Africa and Asia and in megacities, i.e. in cities with over ten million inhabitants. The pollutant emissions from industry, agriculture and transport are the worst offenders, and the generation and use of energy are often too inefficient. There is enormous scope for action in this area — and several examples that show how intelligent technologies can improve the quality of life.

A change in thinking followed by a change of direction

Measurement devices provide the foundation for improving quality of life in cities, making it possible to determine how clean or dirty the air is and whether measures are achieving the desired effect. For this purpose, smart climate monitoring systems collect and analyze real-time data relating to pollutant levels, humidity and pollen count.

With these values determined, cities can respond immediately with intelligent networking. A first step toward becoming a smart city. A change in thinking is followed by a redirection — of traffic flows for example.

“Our guiding principle ‘Invented for life’ motivates us to develop and use the best possible technology to protect our environment. We want to offer people mobility, while at the same time providing good air quality.”

Dr. Volkmar Denner, chairman of the board of management

Using green energy

The systematic evaluation of big data allows municipalities numerous possibilities to offer their citizens smart measures and helpful services. A partnership between Bosch and the major Chinese city of Tianjin is a practical example.

The result has been the development of a virtual power station, a software solution that brings together energy from various, mainly renewable, sources and makes it possible to manage them centrally. It provides a source of green energy to those who wish to use it.

A two-pronged approach

All these approaches show that the most sensible solutions are those that allow each individual to make a contribution to improving quality of life. Above all, cities need to offer a broad transit service. Because many residents see individual motorized transport as indispensable in their daily lives, Bosch is now placing its energy not only into the systematic further development of internal combustion engines but also into electric drives.

Value for money and sustainable

Local emissions are already being avoided thanks to electro-mobility. Ever more electric vehicles will be coming onto the market in the coming years – not only from the major car manufacturers, but also from start-ups such as e.GO.

The German company already offers a small economical car optimized for mobility within the city and which is powered by a Bosch electrical drive train.

Out of our comfort zone

A man drives through the streets of Berlin on an e-scooter of the COUP sharing service

Private cars may no longer be necessary for getting about. Owning fewer of them may mean greater quality of life, and it is also possible to get from A to B with alternative transport. In addition to buses and trains there are sharing services such as COUP, with which you can zoom through the streets of Berlin and Paris — soon also Madrid — on e-scooters. Out of our comfort zone and into the hustle and bustle!

“Our vision: We want to change the way people meet and move.”

Anya Babbitt, Founder and CEO of SPLT

Split the bill

The opportunities to make our major cities better places to live using smart solutions are nowhere near exhausted. In order to drive forward as many good ideas as possible, Bosch is cooperating more intensively with start-ups, even acquiring U.S. carpooling service SPLT recently.

The start-up’s B2B approach successfully targets professional commuters; SPLT brings employees of companies and universities together in carpooling communities, which means they can travel together to their place of work or study, saving money and freeing up roads.

67 Percent

of workers in Germany commute to work by car.
Of these, 70 percent drive for less than half an hour, while only five percent need an hour or longer (Statista).

Competing ideas for greater quality of life

Paolo Ganis, co-founder and CEO of Clairy, taking part in the panel discussion on the evening before the Bosch Pitching Challenge
Paolo Ganis (l.), co-founder and CEO of Clairy, taking part in the panel discussion on the evening before the Bosch Pitching Challenge.

Bosch itself is ever more frequently a founder of companies, as in the case of Triffix. Its internal start-up has specialized in “virtual signs”, currently being tested in Stuttgart. The Stuttgart traffic control center sends relevant information – including recommendations for action – to Triffix, where it is distributed to each road user in tailored packages. In short, everyone receives the most important information at the right time and in the right place. Bosch also dealt with the question of how to continue to improve air quality and thus the quality of life in major cities at the “Pioneers” tech event in Vienna in May. There, start-ups competed with their ideas on how real-time data from measurement sensors can be turned into concrete measures; creative approaches to the Internet of Things were in demand at the “Bosch Pitching Challenge”. The winning technology was one that improves air quality in rooms. The Italian start-up “Clairy” had developed a smart flowerpot that purifies the air in a room by natural means. It does this by using a small fan to ventilate the roots of the plant, which can then absorb pollutants better and convert them into oxygen. This idea convinced the jury, and the start-up now has the opportunity to further develop their ideas together with experts at Bosch.

Summary

Cities are growing and the challenges are increasing. And the search for innovations continues unabated. We will only be able to live healthily over the long term — and breathe freely the world over — if we succeed in keeping our environment clean with smart solutions.

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