Kopfgrafik Nano

Urban Systems

Speaker: Prof. Dr. J. Alexander Schmidt
Speaker: Prof. Dr. J. Alexander Schmidt
Managing Director ZWU: Dr. Michael Eisinger
Managing Director ZWU: Dr. Michael Eisinger
Managing Director ZLV: Klaus Krumme
Managing Director ZLV: Klaus Krumme

The following is a small selection of the array of projects and activities currently underway in the Main Research Area.

Sustainable Urban Land Management

The “KuLaRuhr: Sustainable Urban Cultural Landscapes in the Ruhr Metropolis” project, sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), is an excellent example of the interdisciplinary cooperation valued by the Main Research Area. The face of the currentday Ruhr metropolis is characterized by efforts to institute sustainable development solutions for a changing region. Within the scope of the project, this primarily involves converting old mining and industrial sites to a variety of new uses and dealing with the infrastructural challenges that accompany such conversions (water and energy management, logistics and traffic). The central goal of this joint project is planning, developing, linking and carrying out land-use solutions in the Greater Ruhr Region; these solutions will contribute to the sustainable use of limited resources like land, water and energy and are intended to increase the attractiveness and thus quality of life in the region. One particular focus of the project is the development of decentralized systems that are linked to and coordinated with centralized systems, and the use of synergy effects in water, energy, and land management. With these goals in mind, single groups and various combinations of partners are working within the transdisciplinary framework of the joint project on a variety of approaches to central issues – from technical, ecological, economic, logistical, legal and sociological viewpoints. Under the coordination of the Centre for Water and Environmental Research (ZWU) at the University of Duisburg-Essen, the following institutions are working together on KuLaRuhr: four universities (Duisburg-Essen, Darmstadt, Bochum, and Kassel); the Ruhr Regional Association (RVR); metropoleruhr GmbH; the Chamber of Agriculture of North Rhine-Westphalia; the city of Bottrop; the Ruhr Institute; and the law office of Heinemann & Partner.

Innovative Technologies for Storing Energy in Urbanized Mining Regions

Another groundbreaking project (funded by the Stiftung Mercator and the State of North Rhine-Westphalia) links energy research, geology, geotechnics, water engineering and water management to research the economic and technological potential of underground pumped hydro energy storage facilities. Since the share of renewable energy sources is growing in relation to traditional sources, the increasing fluctuations in supply of wind and solar energy need to be balanced in the long term. The problem of how to store this energy has yet to be resolved. Alongside newly developed storage technologies, underground energy storage facilities are a promising option. In cooperation with Ruhrkohle AG, an interdisciplinary team of natural scientists and engineers is researching to what extent former shaft mines (underground coal mines as well as brown coal surface mines) can be used as energy storage facilities.

Logistics and Traffic Research in Urban Systems

Under the coordination of the Centre for Logistics and Traffic (ZLV), outstanding basic and applied research has been carried out over the past few years, work based on the combined competencies of researchers in the fields of logistics and traffic. Selected examples of this research are presented in the following.

One example of basic research is the application of mathematical methods to analyse, model, and optimize complex flow patterns and networks in urban systems (transporting goods, people, energy and information). The research concentration “Disaster Management” is worthy of special mention here. It was established five years ago and works on evacuation plans for large urban areas. Another field of work is the analysis and management of complex data used for traffic forecasting, for example in a sub-project of Collaborative Research Centre SFB 876 “Providing Information by Resource- Constrained Data Analysis” (TU Dortmund University/University of Duisburg-Essen).

Since 2010, the EffizienzCluster LogistikRuhr, the only BMBF-funded excellence cluster in logistics research in Germany, has been concentrating its efforts on outstanding applied research into new logistical design potentials and central social challenges related to logistics (e. g. the tense interrelationships between urbanization, individualization, and environmental/resource protection). Together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics Dortmund, the University of Duisburg-Essen is the scientific mainstay of this undertaking, where a total of thirty research projects are being carried out. In total, the cluster brings together eleven research institutes and 124 companies from all parts of the supply chain – from small regional companies to logistics global players like Deutsche Post AG/DHL.

As one main pillar of the cluster the University of Duisburg-Essen contributes technical projects (e. g. IT improvement of traffic and navigation systems or camera based analysis of logistical systems) as well as a very comprehensive research approach which seeks to develop a new integrated view on supply chains: “Supply Chain Governance” combines the triad of corporate responsibility, new strategies for developing competencies and knowledge transfer, and organizational innovations in supply chain management with issues of good governance in one unique combination of interrelated research projects.

Funded by the EU Interreg programme, ZLV researchers are also working at European level to develop trans-European rail networks (TEN-V, Code24 project). The important north-south corridor starts in Rotterdam and ends in Genoa; this project therefore involves networking significant urban agglomerations with a combined population of around 70 million. Further, ZLV researchers are also working as part of an EU “knowledge regions” programme with the aim of fundamentally refocusing research and development through international collaborations. In this context ZLV researchers are involved in the “LOG4GREEN” project, which takes a comparative approach to European logistical regions with a focus on innovating sustainable transport and logistics. The project includes a consortium of urban regions from all over Europe: the Greater Ruhr Region, Antwerp, Odessa, Istanbul, Carinthia and Normandy. The central goal of this consortium is to develop common research and action plans that have a major influence on collective research and economic objectives in Europe.

Urban Development and Climate Change: Megacities in China

Specific structures and forms mean that cities today use an incredible amount of energy and as a result are emitting increasing amounts of CO2. Urban life therefore plays an important role in climate change. Because economic growth is normally driven by large cities as places of innovation and progress, they require large amounts of energy and other resources. Yet these cities also hold unimagined potential for saving resources. Particularly in developing countries in Asia, in which rural flight is contributing to the continuing growth of megacities and gigacities, the challenge is to attempt to steer the irreversible processes of urbanization in an ecologically sound direction.

Against this backdrop, the BMBF has been funding a research project titled “Integrated Approaches Towards a Sustainable and Energy- Efficient Urban Development: Urban Form, Mobility, Housing, and Living” since 2005. It is part of the broader “Future Megacities” research area and has supported and accompanied largescale urban development projects in Shanghai. One of the main tasks of the project was the development and implementation of a LowCarbon- Index (LCI®), a scientifically-developed planning tool to support climate-friendly planning on all levels in order to include energy efficiency and the sustainability of the given urban system early in the planning process. Further, a monitoring tool, the Energy Efficiency Controller (EEC®), was developed and installed on site with sensors and smart meters to monitor the energy efficiency of completed buildings and mobility or make any necessary adjustments. The content and organization of the programme is directed by the ISS (Institute of City Planning and Urban Design) at the University of Duisburg-Essen. The project has joint partners representing industry and research in Germany, and partners in China include Tongji University, the Urban Planning Department of the City of Shanghai as well as various regional research institutes. Potential follow-up projects are in the acquisition phase.

Energy Efficiency and Climate Culture in Essen

The constructed environment, technological development, the economy and politics are not the only determining factors in energy-efficient urban development; social and cultural dynamics also play a key role. The basic premise behind the “Climate Initiative Essen – Action in a new Climate Culture” project is that all of the factors above must synergize in a complex fashion to make a city climate-compatible. This project secured funding from the BMBF after winning its “Energy- Efficient City” competition. It combines both topdown and bottom-up approaches. The initiative works to address various socio-cultural issues and advises the public on ways to improve energy efficiency on the individual level, as well as giving professional advice on building projects. The goal of this participatory approach is to reduce CO2 emissions by 40 % by 2020 against emissions levels measured in 1990. To do this, the project is reaching out into the diverse communities in Essen and mobilizing local leaders and individuals to consider utilizing renewable energies and ways to improve development, mobility and buildings. Services can then be tailored to the needs of specific communities and networks established. The Climate Initiative Essen is a project of the city of Essen in cooperation with the Institute of City Planning and Urban Design and the Centre for Logistics and Traffic (both at the University of Duisburg-Essen) as well as the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities KWI (Essen), Essener Verkehrs-AG (local transport authority), Allbau AG, and Transportation Research and Consulting GmbH.

City and Mobility

Mobility and urban development are like ‘ Siamese twins’: the city is shaped by mobility and mobility by the city. Bearing this relationship in mind, the applied research project “New Traffic Concepts in the City of the Future” (funded by Stiftung Mercator) seeks to blend principles of city development and urban design with current urban realities such as electromobility, smart mobility and pedestrian and cycling mobility. It further aims to illustrate and evaluate the relationships between and effects of these factors. Mobility should no longer dominate urban planning as it has in the last hundred years; the goal rather is to establish dialogues in order to develop optimal and politically viable alternatives. Ideally, this will promote new impulses for progressive urban development and mobility policy in the region. The research team is a collaborative effort between members of the Institute of City Planning and Urban Design, Transportation Research and Consulting GmbH, and the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities.

“ARUS”: Interdisciplinary International Doctoral Studies Programme

“ARUS – Advanced Research in Urban Systems”, an interdisciplinary international doctoral studies programme funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) since 2010, unites many of the disciplines in the Main Research Area of Urban Systems and is dedicated to educating young academics. The programme, supported by researchers representing many faculties, facilitates close academic supervision and fosters excellent doctoral candidates working on innovative projects related to key issues in urban studies. Often dealing with cross-disciplinary methods and subject matter, these doctoral projects can only be carried out effectively in such an interdisciplinary research network. Even during the first year of the programme, the young academics were able on many occasions to present their findings at international conferences and in international journals and research publications.