emergenCITY - The Resilient Digital City

In 2050, approximately two thirds of the global population will reside in cities, which is a significant increase from 30% in 1950 and 50% in 2010. Efforts must be made to enhance the efficiency of key infrastructures, namely energy, transportation, logistics, and water supply, in order to accommodate the continuing expansion of urban areas. Information and communication technologies (ICT) present several prospects for achieving such efficiency gains and are thus facilitating the creation of digital cities. However, this trend endangers the efficiency of urban areas in emergency scenarios. The growing dependence on digital services and connectivity renders societies more susceptible to harmful incidents affecting routine ICT operations. There are risk factors for ICT-based infrastructures like human-made disruptions, natural disasters, violence and terrorism. Nevertheless, there is a lack of research on the performance of digital cities during severe events, crises and catastrophes. The centre known as "emergenCITY - The Resilient Digital City", which is funded by the Hessian state government, focuses on researching key principles, methods and solutions for implementing a novel approach to crisis management via ICT-based infrastructures. This innovative approach is termed "Resilient Digital Cities". In this context, resilience refers to a system's capacity to withstand crises, recover from them efficiently and sustainably, or attain comparable or new functional abilities through transformation.

The Chair of Public Law, IT Law and Environmental Law at the University of Kassel is responsible for addressing legal matters at the Centre. The primary objective centres on the permissibility and layout of ICT systems in digital cities, as per data protection and IT security legislation. In the end, it aims to strike a balance between safeguarding personal data and ensuring public safety. The assessment comprises the gathering and analysis of (personal) data, in compliance with data protection, to facilitate de-escalation, emergency response, crisis assessment, and communication among authorities and organisations with security tasks. To enhance the resilience of ICT systems substantially, a copious amount of information sources alongside efficient and automated data assessment capabilities are essential. As part of consolidating and analysing this data, the issue of permissibility, responsibility and liability under data protection law arises. Additionally, it cannot be discounted that contractual agreements with private organisations could supplement state obligations to transmit information. A legally permissible and efficient approach is needed to establish a resilient city effectively.

Matthias Hollick, who works at the Secure Mobile Networks (SEEMOO) department in TU Darmstadt, is in charge of the scientific coordination of the LOEWE centre "emergenCITY", which is an interdisciplinary cooperation comprising 23 professors from various fields such as computer science, electrical engineering, information technology, mechanical engineering, social and historical sciences, architecture, economics and law. The cooperation involves the Technical University of Darmstadt, the University of Kassel and the University of Marburg, all of whom form a cross-location partnership. The Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) and the City of Darmstadt are collaborators in the centre's activities. "emergenCITY" addresses these challenges in a comprehensive manner, utilizing four interconnected programme areas: urban planning and societal aspects, information, communication, and cyber-physical systems.

For further details on "emergenCITY", please visit the centre's homepage.

Project information

Hessian Ministry of Higher Education, Research and the Arts


1st funding phase:
January 2020 - December 2023

2nd funding phase:
January 2024 - December 2024

Project leader:
Prof. Dr. Gerrit Hornung, LL.M.

Jan-Philipp Muttach