Gesa Ziemer presents the City Science Lab @ MIT ClimateTech

Gesa Ziemer presents the City Science Lab Hamburg at this year's Climate Tech conference hosted by MIT Cambridge/USA. The Technology Review’s conference on innovations for a sustainable future and discuss climate technologies on climate change inquiries. The Input underlines collaborative tools as well as projects which have been recently carried out by the multi-stakeholder City Science Lab Hamburg.



The City Science Network is an international community of institutions and researchers that share the common goal of enabling more livable, equitable, and resilient communities. We propose that the grand transnational challenges of our era are best addressed in cities, one community at a time. ClimateTech is a conference hosted by MIT Technology Review in collaboration with City Science.

Gesa Ziemer: "My life's theme is collaboration".

Interview with the art association Schichtwechsel


recorded in June 2023 and published in August 2023.


This interview is part of the podcast "why walk when you can dance" by Kunstverein Schichtwechsel. In this interview of just under an hour, Gesa talks about her dynamic professional career, explains why complicity is important for progressive and innovative projects for people and the cities they inhabit. With editor Laura Hilti, Gesa philosophizes about the future of cities, the importance of data for participatory urban development processes. As a professor of Digital Urban Cultures, she developed a unique course of study at HafenCity University and now conducts research on digital cities. Recently, she founded her first company.


Project Air View


On June 13, 2023, Project Air View ended after almost two years with a closing event at the City Science Lab Hamburg. Google had been collecting data on air quality in the city since September 2021. In order to explore how the Project Air View data can be used in a target-oriented way in the Hamburg context, Google and CSL cooperated within the project.



The Air View Hamburg project is a cooperation between Google Germany GmbH (Google) and HafenCity University Hamburg (HCU). The scientific project management on the part of the HCU lies with Prof. Gesa Ziemer, head of the City Science Lab (CSL). The project has been supported by the Hamburg city administration from the beginning. Google launched Project Air View in several European cities and in Hamburg as the first German city.

New publication released:


Vanessa Weber, Gesa Ziemer


Die Digitale Stadt

Kuratierte Daten für urbane Kollaborationen

- soon to be released in english language -


Published 2023 transcript Verlag, Bielefeld


Städte sind heute zu Big Data-Produzentinnen geworden. Neue Technologien können diese Daten miteinander verknüpfen, was enormes Potential für die Stadtentwicklung birgt. Doch wie lassen sich diese Daten kuratieren, damit sowohl die Bürger*innen als auch die Expert*innen der Stadtentwicklung besser zusammenarbeiten können? Vanessa Weber und Gesa Ziemer unterziehen den technisch getriebenen Smart City-Diskurs einer kritischen Analyse und stellen dabei den konkreten Nutzen für die Menschen ins Zentrum ihrer Überlegungen. Sie beschreiben Praktiken des »City Science Labs« an der HafenCity Hamburg, in dem datenbasierte Werkzeuge zur Entscheidungsfindung in urbanen Reallaboren erprobt und angewendet werden, und diskutieren konkrete Beispiele.


City Science Summit 2022


Hyper-LOCAL Solutions to GLOBAL Challenges


From minute 43:30 Gesa Ziemer talks with Hossein Rahnama, the Director of the City Science Lab @ Toronto, the Founder and CEO of Flybits, Co-Founder and Director of Research and Innovation at Ryerson University Digital Media Zone, and an affiliate at the MIT Media Lab.

The City Science Summit is an annual gathering of the City Science Network: an international community of institutions and researchers that share the common goal of enabling more livable, equitable, and resilient communities.


The 2022 City Science Summit is a collaboration between MIT City Science, the City Science Network and the Norman Foster Foundation.

Cities are producing more digital data than ever before. How can we use this data to shape new forms of collaboration in people-centred smart cities?


@ TEDx Bonn, Gesa Ziemer will talk about New Forms of Collaboration and how to create people-centered digital cities.


New Column in Tagesspiegel Background

At regular intervals, Gesa Ziemer reports from the CityScienceLab in the Tagespiegel Background under the heading "Smart City".

- The articles are always in German language -



Urban researcher Ziemer: The future of cities is digital


- Interview in German language -

Published in Tagesspiegel Backround, May 2022


Digitalization and Corona are radically driving change in cities, says urban researcher Gesa Ziemer. She recently became head of a UN urban laboratory for sustainable urban development through digitalization at Hafencity University. There, innovative technologies are to be developed for use in cities around the world.

Urban development: What Hamburg can learn from Singapore and Zurich


Published in Hamburger Abendblatt - April 2022


Click here to listen to the podcast - A look beyond the end of your nose | What will become of Hamburg - The podcast on urban development?

Hamburg. How times change - just half a century ago, the West seemed to be the world. The three largest cities on the planet were New York (16.3 million inhabitants), Tokyo (14.9), London (10.5). Today, with Tokyo (39.1 million), Jakarta (35.4 million), Delhi (31.9 million), Mumbai (23.4 million) and Manila (23.9 million)
only Asian metropolises in the top five.

Germany-wide smart city board founded

Published in Tagesspiegel Backround - February 2022

In the future, the municipal umbrella organisations want to make common cause with science and other institutions in the area of smart cities and define topics. Yesterday, they founded a "Board of Boards" in which activities related to smart cities and regions will be bundled. The kick-off event for this took place on 31 January 2022.

What is smart about the smart city?

Published in tomorrow - january 2022


The city in a completely new role: as a Big Data producer. The director of the global CityScienceLab, Prof. Dr Gesa Ziemer, shows what multi-layered possibilities this opens up.


Cities around the world are not only becoming more extensive, but above all more dense, so that more and more people are living together in a very small space. According to the United Nations, there are currently more than thirty megacities with more than ten million inhabitants. The Nigerian metropolis of Lagos, which is home to around 15 million people today, is expected to grow to 80 million by the end of the century. How can technologies help to govern and organise the increasingly complex organism that is the city?

CityScienceLab Hamburg shows how urban data makes cities smarter


The CityScienceLab at HafenCity University Hamburg explores urban data to investigate how digitisation can change cities. In co-operation with the MIT Media Lab and further partners from politics, business and science, the research institution develops digital city models – so-called CityScopes – to analyse urban development processes. The goal is to strengthen collaboration between different urban development stakeholders and to make cities better places to live – with data as a tool. Prof. Dr. Gesa Ziemer, CityScienceLab Director and academic lead at UNITAC Hamburg, a technology lab of the United Nations (UN Habitat), told Hamburg News how that can work.


Digital city. New forms of data-based collaboration.

Published in Schueco Talk Series " 20 Minutes " - November 2021


Cities today have become big data producers. It is crucial to collect this data, transform it into good quality, maintain it and make it available to as many people as possible. How can this data create new forms of cooperation? Which data combinations make cooperation between the disciplines in urban development possible?

The City Science Summit 2021 - Cities WITH(in)

Taipei - in cooperation with the MIT Media Lab


With Kent Larson, Leehter Yao, Yonqui Lou, C Kien Vu, Hossein Rahnama, Marc Pons, Mayra Gamboa and more.


This event was hosted virtually in October of 2021 with MIT City Science and Taipei Tech. For this summit, the teams welcomed members of the City Science Network, collaborators, industry experts and like-minded planners, engineers, scientists and artists for five days of presentations and workshops.


The City Science Network proposes that transnational problems such as climate change and public health are best addressed in cities, one community at a time. Future cities, described as clusters of high-performing, entrepreneurial, and walkable communities, would allow for more livable, resilient neighborhoods that aspire to achieve the following goals: zero commuting, zero energy, maximum creative collisions, maximum equity, and maximum public health.

INTERGEO: Sustainable cities only exist with participation - Interview


Gesa Ziemer, Director at the City Science Lab at Hafen City University in Hamburg, and her team are heavily involved with twin technologies and have the ambition to develop them for social data and citizen participation as well. Most twins model traffic, logistics or infrastructure. They also want to bring in the social aspect! Read the full interview on how "Sustainable cities only exist with participation" now!

New Publication out now:


Digital City Science. Researching New Technologies in Urban Environments. Perspectives in Metropolitan Research 6. Raphael Schwegmann, Gesa Ziemer, Jörg R. Noenning (Hg). Jovis, Berlin 2021.


How will science and technology shape the cities of the future - and what influence will cities have on future science and technology? Who are the architects and actors who are behind these processes in the context of digitization? What presuppositions can science be unconsciously guided by when doing research on the digital city? What does it mean in this context to work transdisciplinary? Based on these questions, Perspectives in Metropolitan Research 6 offers an overview of current perspectives on the digital city.

"Urban Researcher Ziemer: The Future of the City is digital" - Interview in Tagesspiegel


Digitalization and the corona pandemic are radically changing the cities, according to urban researcher Prof. Dr. Gesa Ziemer. She recently became head of a UN laboratory for sustainable urban development through digitalization (UNITAC) at the HCU. Innovative technologies are to be developed there that will be used in cities around the world.


with Katharina Schneider

This article was published on May 11th, 2021 in the Tagesspiegel Extra-Briefing for Smart Cities & Regions.
Picture: Copyright Angela Pfeiffer

This article was published on May 11th, 2021 in the Tagesspiegel Extra-Briefing for Smart Cities & Regions.

The extra briefing is published every two weeks as part of the Tagesspiegel Background Digitalization & KI and provides information about new initiatives, papers and projects for the digitalization of municipalities.




Gute Leude - The Hamburg Talk (Podcast)


Episode 37: For Prof. Dr. Gesa Ziemer Hamburg is a place of longing, it is her home. Although she has spent a lot of time abroad - or perhaps because of it, she works as an urban development expert in the Hanseatic city. In the new episode of our podcast, she tells Lars how she pursues her passion, research and observation. The professor of cultural theory also reports on how the airport brings her down and which encounters brought her on her way.


with Lars Meier



New Publication:

Stadt als Interface. Analoge und digitale Aspekte. In: Hiromi Hosoya, Markus Schaefer (Hg). The Industrious City. Urban Industry in the Digital Age. Zurüch 2021.


Cities have always been places where commerce and production, working and living are physically and functionally integrated. Only with the rise of industry have zoning regulations been introduced to separate these functions in space. But what is the role of such regulations when industry is digitized, increasingly emission-free, and based on innovation more than mass production? How should working and living be combined, when mobility and energy consumption become more sustainable? And what are the opportunities in a volatile world, characterized by digital disruption, migration, and demographic shifts, to create urban areas based on social equity and resilience? Based on interrogative research at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (GSD) in the interdisciplinary urban design studio The Industrious City, the Zurich-based architecture studio Hosoya Schaefer presents this publication of the same name.



City Science Summit 2020

Guadalajara in cooperation with the MIT Media Lab


with Ricardo Villanueva, Enrique Alfaro Ramírez, Kent Larson, Lord Norman Foster, Hashim Sarkis, Frida Escobedo, Dina Buchbinder and more.


The City Science Summit is an annual gathering of the City Science Network and other thought leaders in the fields of urban science, planning, computer science, policy and decision making, social sciences and rapid urbanization.


Our fourth annual summit is hosted by our collaborators at the University of Guadalajara and will focus on strategies for a future without top down and increasingly obsolete urban systems and with lightweight, distributed, autonomous systems. Sub themes include: urban design, places of living, places of work, data networks, economies, education and health.

"Life in the country is becoming more attractive" - Interview in the Hamburger Abendblatt



Urban development expert Gesa Ziemer on the future of cities, the renaissance of the country and the role of the car.


with Insa Gall and Matthias Iken



Urban Planning in Dialogue - Podcast (01)


Todays guest is Gesa Ziemer. She heads the CityScienceLab in Hamburg, a cooperation with the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge/ USA, which investigates the urban challenges in the era of digitalization. Gesa Ziemer is professor for Cultural Theory and Practice and thus has less of a technical view on the digital city but, among other things, deals with digital participation and how digital data can help to simplify complex decisions in urban planning.


with Hendrik Jansen and Ilka Mecklenbrauck



The Gateway to Urban Future - Podcast

Gesa Ziemer on the concrete future of cities. At the CityScienceLab in Hamburg she develops tools to show the consequences of decision making. What does it mean to build accomodation for 300 refugees? What does it mean to build new roues for public transport? Ziemer says: It is not really important if a city is aesthetically pleasing, it is important if a city works for the people, we need a resilient city.


with Michael Carl and Jacqueline Althaller




Citymaking Podcast_03

on opportunities and challenges of the digital city


with Thorsten Kausch




City Science Summit 2019

Elbphilharmonie, in cooperation with the MIT Media Lab 


With Norman Foster, Nicolas Negroponte, Maja Göpel, Joelle Pianzolla, Kent Larson, Katharina Fegebank, Peter Tschentscher and more. 


On 1st and 2nd October 2019, international experts will gather in Hamburg at the City Science Summit to discuss which digital technologies will influence decision-making processes and shape everyday life in future cities. The conference title "Cities without..." invites us to open up

spaces for thought and fill vacancies with visions for the city as a living space.


The City Science Summit 2019 is organized by the CityScienceLab of the HafenCity University Hamburg (HCU) in cooperation with the Media Lab of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston, USA and the City Science Network. The conference is open to the public and free of charge. Registration at is mandatory.

New Publications


Performing Citizenship. Bodies, Agencies and Limitations.

Hildebrandt, Peters, Ziemer (eds). Palgrave, London 2019.


This open-access book discusses how citizenship is performed today, mostly through the optic of the arts, in particular the performing arts, but also from the perspective of a wide range of academic disciplines such as urbanism and media studies, cultural education and postcolonial theory. It is a compendium that includes insights from artistic and activist experimentation. Each chapter investigates a different aspect of citizenship, such as identity and belonging, rights and responsibilities, bodies and materials, agencies and spaces, and limitations and interventions. It rewrites and rethinks the many-layered concept of citizenship by emphasising the performative tensions produced by various uses, occupations, interpretations and framings.

Perspectives in Metropolitan Research


New Stakeholders of Urban Change

Hilke Berger, Gesa Ziemer (Hrsg.)



In the urban centers of Europe, residents are increasingly demanding not only to participate in the discussion about the densification of our cities, but also to shape it actively. It is especially creative planning projects that succeed in finding new role models and structures for urban development: artists act as urban developers, theaters carry out urban projects, curators curate the city, architects also take on the role of social workers. This results in new hybrid fields of action that require a rethinking of established strategies and the constellations of those involved.


This volume brings together perspectives from quite different professions at the interface of urban planning and cultural practice, in order to seek answers to some central questions: how does this hybridity generate a contemporary urbanity? How must contemporary institutions be structured? And how should a new culture of cooperation be set up to enable a mutual dialog and transparency in development processes between citizens and authorities, as well as between the various stakeholders?

Finding Places

  • SAT1 on Finding Places
  • “App der guten Hoffnung” in the Süddeutsche Zeitung

         Further articles on the topic:

  • Urban Modelling for Refugees in Hamburg by Ariel Noyman
  • Shifting Priorities, Finding Places by Kent Larson and Ariel Noyman
  • Cities and Refugees: The German Experience by the Brookings Institution



Complicity. New Perspectives on Collectivity
published in English by transcript Press


Occupy, Commons and other social experiments show: New collectivities are invented and tested. Gesa Ziemer enriches this debate through the insight that in the process, the reinterpretation of old forms of joint action can play an essential role. By looking at comlicities in art, science and economy, ongoing collectivization is exposed.

Complicitiy means the committing of an act together, so the definition of criminal law. But for a long time now the concept has also been targeted at legal collective actions - mainly in innovative enviroments. Individuals act jointly in an intensely affective way - albeit only temporarily, bindingly in common - but still individually, inventively - and at the same time in a goal-oriented manner.


Prof. Dr. Gesa Ziemer
HafenCity Universität

Henning - Voscherau - Platz 1

20457 Hamburg