Why do Karlsruhe and the CODE_n new.NEW Festival match so perfectly? – Mainly, because they both share the same spirit of innovation, the dedication to the new and unknown and the committed willingness to connect, support and promote extraordinary masterminds. In both cases, pioneers are provided with adequate surrounding conditions – be it the CODE_n SPACES in Stuttgart or numerous research facilities, networking possibilities and business incubators in Karlsruhe. Therefore, scientists and founders are able to focus completely on their research and on the exchange of expertise with like-minded people.
In Karlsruhe the tradition of innovation reaches far back into the past. Remarkable and groundbreaking novelties such as the development of the first bicycle in 1871 and the first automobile in 1885 took place in the city by the Rhine. As it would go beyond the scope of this article, we will place emphasis exclusively on an extremely limited selection of IT based innovations here. – Given the fact that Karlsruhe calls the largest IT faculty its own, houses 25 national and international research institutes, and forms the third largest IT cluster in Europe, the creation of this non-evaluative shortlist was a not to be underestimated challenge.
Discovery of electromagnetic waves
A glance at past performances leads inevitably to the year 1886. Back then, the German physicist Heinrich Hertz first created and proved the existence of electromagnetic waves at the Institute of Technology in Karlsruhe. He therefore laid the foundation for the contemporary electronic data transfer and can be seen as one of the prime fathers of telecommunications. Without him radio, smartphones and WiFi might not exist in their current state. To honor his far-reaching and pioneering discovery, the unit of frequency was and is still named “hertz”.
First e-mail, first faculty of information technology and internet capital
Another trend-setting event occurred in Karlsruhe on August 3, 1984, at 10.14 hrs CET: the first direct e-mail arrived in Germany at the Universität Karlsruhe – today´s well-known Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). It was the signal of a tremendous technical and, further along the line as well, social change. Although e-mails had already been received and sent in Germany before, this mail was the first internet-based connection.
Besides, Professor Karl Steinbuch introduced the concept of information technology in 1957 in Karlsruhe, leading to the first German lecture in informatics in 1958 and, finally, to the foundation of the first German faculty of information technology in Karlsruhe in 1972. Furthermore, the city was declared Germany´s internet capital in 2003 as it reached the highest total value based on its population in categories such as active users and web offerings.
Test Center for Connected and Automated Driving
The future enhancements of mobility are a fascinating, outstanding and demanding challenge and scientific issue – to which autonomous driving is one answer. It is generally agreed that autonomous driving will lead to safer, faster and even more comfortable traveling in the near future. Led by the FZI Forschungszentrum Informatik, various cars are already driving in Karlsruhe autonomously – so far always with a (potential) driver to cause no irritation among citizens and to be able to interfere at any moment.
In July 2016 the Ministry of Transport came to the decision that parts of Karlsruhe and its surroundings are going to be built up as a “Test Center for Connected and Automated Driving”. Given that autonomous driving combines mobility and digitalization, which are two strategic research subjects in Karlsruhe, the chosen location is a perfect fit. The test center provides the region with the unique opportunity to have a significant share in future developments in the mobility sector. Both companies and research institutions are able to test their forward-looking technologies and services in real-life traffic for approximately five years. The conjunction and cooperation of research and application as well as of automotive and Information and communications technology (ICT) industries will create valuable mutual benefits. The center´s first test runs are scheduled for July 2017 and the regular operating mode is planned to start 5 months later.
Digital Health and Smart Energy
Besides the popular and widely discussed topic of autonomous driving, further exciting IT related research projects are carried out in Karlsruhe at the moment. With its high future relevance for society and the often passionately discussed pros and cons, research concerning digital health and health care services can be named here.
Another highly relevant topic is energy, which might not seem to fit in the IT area at first sight. However, renewable energies cause for example a fluctuating energy production, which in turn influences the stability of the electricity grid and requires highly reliable and continuous monitoring. Methods to perform this monitoring are developed in Karlsruhe as well as necessary infrastructures and software architectures for an integrated energy management.
Karlsruhe is not only responsible for past and present innovations, with its extraordinary and cutting-edge research institutes, companies and business incubators it is also ready to shape the IT based future.
Titelbild: Stadtmarketing Karlsruhe GmbH – Foto: Hardy Müller