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Building a global ecosystem for smart cities of the future

Welcome back to "Smart City Hub Innovators"! For our third interview we had the pleasure of meeting Ulrich Ahle, CEO of Fiware Foundation, a non-profit organization that drives the definition and encourages the adoption of open standards. We talk about his background and why innovation is so important for Fiware. 


Tell us about your professional background and your role in the company.

I am an experienced executive in the IT sector, formerly Vice President and leader of the Manufacturing and Industrie 4.0 System Integration business at Atos in Germany. Also, founder and member of the Board of the International Data Spaces Association in Germany and I worked 16 years in the Board of the prostep IVIP organization until April 2018.

After an apprenticeship as a toolmaker at Hella KG, I studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Paderborn. In my career I held several positions as a Development Engineer, Director of PLM Services, Sales Director, and Vice President. I have also been part of Nixdorf Computer AG, Siemens, and Atos.

Since January 2017 I am the Chief Executive Officer of the FIWARE Foundation headquartered in Berlin, Germany.


What projects are you working on right now? What technologies are important for your company and why?

I’m managing a global ecosystem on Open Source and Open Standards for digital cities of the future.

For us Open Source technologies to get access to data describing what is happening around is important. Our ecosystem is using this data to create smart cities, improving the lives of the citizens, reducing the cost of operating a city, and improving the environment. In this standard interface and standard data, models have an important role to avoid the creation of data silos and reduce the ‘vendor lock-in.


What are the main challenges you see in your work? What role do innovations play in your company?

Technology is available but we are facing quite often limited know-how or capacities in the area of digitization within the city administrations. Innovation plays a very high role as we are walking a path in digitization where innovations are important to find the right way.
Why is the Smart City topic important for your company? Why is it important for your company to be part of the Berlin smart city ecosystem?

Smart City is one of our core topics and the reason why we exist. The Berlin Smart City ecosystem is by far the largest in Germany but also one of the most complex ones (which also has downsides) and we are headquartered in Berlin on purpose.

We are convinced that digitization plays a major role in creating sustainable environments, through such things as smart lighting, smart mobility, smart water, smart parking, and more.
What were the reasons why you joined BIA Smart City Hub? What benefits do you see for your company in cross-sectoral and multi-stakeholder collaboration?

We had joined the Smart City Hub program because of the network and connections you can make. We are truly convinced that digital ecosystems should not be siloed but instead need to be interoperable in order to create real value.



Thanks, Ulrich, for taking the time to answer our questions!