A breath of fresh air in Nuremberg

More and more German cities are being sued for low air quality and must show an action plan to meet target levels. As the first city to test the new CyPT-Air tool, Nuremberg can present a plan to lower emissions with detailed predictions about the impact of policy and technology changes.

The city of Nuremberg, Germany – loved by tourists and residents for its expansive old town and scent-filled Christmas market – was one of 45 cities to have legal measures initiated against them by the nonprofit association Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH, Environmental Action Germany) in mid-2017 for exceeding thresholds of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), an irritant compound that attacks the skin and causes respiratory problems. The cities were given a deadline by the campaign group to unveil the short-term measures they will take to ensure target levels are met as of January 1, 2018. The legal action wasn’t the first against German cities for their air quality, and, most likely, it will not be the last. 


In the case of Nuremberg, the city has a progressive environmental policy and is among the top 25 cities in the Mercer Quality of Living Ranking. It has been working for years to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases. Nevertheless, due to local traffic, Nuremberg does not always meet World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for air pollution levels, in particular nitrogen dioxide and fine dust particulates. 


Unlike other cities targeted by DUH, Nuremberg can show environmental activists, citizens, and policy makers more than its short-term plan of action to lower air pollution: It now has predictions of air pollution levels in 2030, as well as calculations showing which policy and technology changes will lower which types of pollutants by how much and when. 

We now have a powerful analysis for convincing citizens and lawmakers what measures to take to reduce air pollution.
eter Pluschke, Deputy Mayor of Nuremberg

The analyses come from a new version of the City Performance Tool (CyPT) software, developed by Siemens. It is called CyPT-Air because the parameter-modeling tool was adapted for air quality. Nuremberg is the first city worldwide to use CyPT-Air to measure key pollution indicators, create a package of measures to reduce pollution, and make predictions about air pollution levels over the long term. Nuremberg participated in a pilot project with Siemens that lasted roughly twelve months and resulted in three comprehensive transport scenarios that the city can use to reduce air pollution. 

Peter Pluschke, Nuremberg’s Deputy Mayor in charge of environmental and health issues, was deeply involved in the project. He says: “We now have a powerful analysis for convincing citizens and lawmakers what measures to take to reduce air pollution.” 

Why Nuremberg?

Nuremberg was chosen as the global pilot city for CyPT-Air because of its close ties to Siemens (which has a major campus in nearby Erlangen) and the wealth of data available here, including some data that other cities don’t collect, such as air pollution measurements made with mobile reading stations. 


For all sectors under consideration, CyPT-Air reports both environmental and economic indicators. Nuremberg used data on mobility and transportation to calculate the impact of 40 traffic and technology measures, such as banning vehicles in the city center, creating incentives for more bicycle use, or extending the subway system. 


Nuremberg used a wide variety of its own data sets, provided by different city offices, to develop three scenarios for reducing pollution. The first, called “Intelligent E-Mobile,” is focused on reducing NO2 by 2020 and includes putting into place an environmental zone around the city, implementing a toll, and introducing more electric vehicles, including buses, taxis, and cars. If Nuremberg takes all the steps it has as mapped out, it could reduce NO2 emissions in 2020 by 45 percent, according to calculations made with the CyPT-Air tool.

The second scenario is called “Car-Free Fun” and is focused on tolls and taxation to give people an incentive to use other types of transport than cars, in order to reduce fine dust and carbon emissions by 2025. The third scenario, “Livable City 2025,” would create an overall intramodal transport concept to encourage behavioral change, for instance through faster turnaround times and lower prices for public transport. 

About CyPT-Air

CyPT-Air was piloted for the first time this year, but actually has a long history. Its roots are in the GCI, the Green City Index, which Siemens used to compare indicators in different cities, such as sustainable development, carbon reduction, or waste management. The GCI evolved into the CyPT, which forecasts indicators, mostly carbon related, until 2050 and serves as a planning tool for dozens of cities around the world including Shenzhen, Minneapolis, and Helsinki. With CyPT, Siemens models specific areas of a city, such as buildings and energy systems, and looks at the impact of applying technologies and infrastructures, including wind power, solar PV, or building automation.

Cities can find out which indicators will change by how much and when, based on particular actions or inaction.
Florian Ansgar Jaeger, Engineer, Siemens Corporate Technology

Now, with the CyPT-Air tool piloted in Nuremberg, Siemens does the same for clean-air targets. Florian Ansgar Jaeger, who led the CyPT-Air pilot in Nuremberg for Siemens, explains: “Our calculations are very detailed and precise and give cities a solid basis for understanding the costs and benefits of their choices. Cities can find out which indicators will change by how much and when, based on particular actions or inaction. This is something that most cities don’t know in detail.”

Jürgen Zöbl, who works closely with the city of Nuremberg as a representative of the Mobility Division at Siemens, says: “Many cities have plans and ideas about measures. They also have lots of studies for individual measures, but they often aren’t able to visualize how it all fits together.” Looking forward, Siemens is working to feed live data collected automatically into the CyPT-Air tool so that cities can make quick decisions about short-term measures to reduce pollution. 


“It’s important to move from a point-in-time analysis to continuous monitoring,” says Pluschke. “Especially considering the lawsuits [over air quality] that you have probably read about in the newspaper, we will need to show the impact of the measures we’re planning. The CyPT tool will help us do that and lend us credibility.”


Author: Rhea Wessel, freelance writer in Frankfurt, Germany.

Picture credits: Siemens AG

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