22nd Karlsruhe Dialogues - Speakers

Smart Cities – On the Way to a Higher Quality of Life?


Prof. Dr. Harald Heinrichs


Prof. Dr. Harald Heinrichs studied Sociology, Political Science, and Economic Policy at the University of Münster. Following this, he was a (guest) scientist at various research institutes and universities in Germany and abroad. In addition, he worked for KPMG business consultants as a CSR manager. Since 2009, he has been professor for Sustainability and Politics at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg. Heinrichs is active in the fields of research, teaching, and consultancy with regard to the themes of sustainability, politics, and society. One focus of his work is communal sustainability. He is a member of the Global Advisory Group Sharing City Seoul.



1. What do you consider to be an ‘intelligent’ city?

An intelligent city is a city in which innovative technological and social options are used to improve the quality of life of its citizens on the basis of sustainable development.


2. In your opinion, what are the most urgent problems that have to be solved on the way to intelligent cities?

The most urgent problem is to avoid being overwhelmed by the available and emerging technological options. The new technological options of digitisation and artificial intelligence must not become ends in themselves. Cities need to be oriented towards sustainable development; both technical and social innovations are important means of achieving this goal.


3. What are, in your opinion, the most exceptional chances arising with the change towards smart cities?

A digital administration can improve the transparency, communication, and interaction with citizens. Digitised, ‘intelligent’ physical infrastructures, ranging from sensor-supported waste disposal to sharing concepts in the mobility sector, can contribute to environmental and cost efficiency. However, if social cohesion is to be strengthened, technological smart-city approaches need to be complemented by social innovations.