Smart City Lab Basel has opened its doors. A look behind the scenes.

Smart City Lab Basel has opened its doors. A look behind the scenes.
17 April 2019, Philippe Stadler Benz in conversation with Lukas Ott

Smart City Lab Basel has opened its doors. A look behind the scenes.

The Smart City Lab Basel was opened at the Wolf site on 10 April 2019. The lab is a joint initiative of SBB and the Canton of Basel-Stadt. It gives partners from the worlds of business, science and management the opportunity to develop and test out innovative solutions for mobility, logistics and more. The Canton of Basel-Stadt and SBB have joined forces with the aim of contributing to enhancing quality of life and making Switzerland a more attractive and competitive country. Philippe Stadler Benz spoke to Lukas Ott, Head of Cantonal and Urban Development for Basel-Stadt, about who is already working in the Smart City Lab Basel, what further plans are in the pipeline and how SBB and the Canton of Basel-Stadt are strongly committed to the issue of smart cities.

What does “smart city” mean? 

The aim is to make our cities better places to live and transform them into smart cities by applying holistic development plans based on partnerships. Cities should become more connected, more intelligent, more innovative and more sustainable. The ultimate goal is quality of life. Forging links and partnerships, both physical and digital, are key factors in this process, just like in the Smart City Lab Basel. Digitalisation offers potential that we want to harness, but people are our main focus.

What in particular makes the Smart City Lab Basel stand out? 

By integrating the Smart City Lab Basel into a test site spanning 16 hectares, all developments can be tested out to scale. The lab thus offers a space that is unique in the whole of Switzerland to develop innovations and solutions, gather experience and continue learning together as a community. The lab allows experts and interested members of the public to experience smart solutions and offers the opportunity to discuss them with a wide audience. We invite everyone to come and take part in our lab. 

Why does the Smart City Lab Basel mainly focus on mobility and logistics? 

This focus reflects the way in which the site is currently being used. Mobility and logistics are a challenge for our cities and offer enormous development potential. By using state-of-the-art technologies, optimised processes and a more flexible design approach, goods and passengers can travel in the city more quickly and conveniently, while emitting fewer emissions. The smart city approach makes it possible to tackle questions from a holistic and interdisciplinary perspective. That is why the lab is also open to further pilot projects and topics that take an innovative approach to enhancing quality of life. 

What specifically does the lab offer? 

The co-working space is where ideas are developed and projects are put together. These can be tested directly at the site. The exchange and cooperation between the worlds of business, science, society and management are at the heart of this process. This networking does not only take place virtually, but also requires physical spaces in order to hold discussions, to inspire each other and to tackle new challenges. We want to and need to work together on the future.

 Which pilot projects are currently under way in the Smart City Lab? 

Initial partnerships and pilot projects on mobility, city logistics, light control, energy, traffic counting and 3D data are already in place at the Wolf site. These companies organise, for example, a city-friendly supply of goods through optimised transport systems, provide or identify an Internet of Things platform with integrated light control and count more than ten different vehicle classes with precise area lasers. 

Should the lab also have an effect beyond the Wolf site? 

As a location for innovation, we want to be a role model. That is why we promote networking with other smart cities and research projects in Switzerland and abroad. We invite partners from the worlds of business, science and management to contribute their ideas. The projects and solutions should be harnessed and have an impact extending beyond the Wolf site into urban areas and Switzerland as a whole. 

Where can interested individuals, start-ups and companies who want to work in the Smart City Lab in the future sign up? 

The best way to register is by visiting Whether you want to spend a day working in the co-working space, use a test room for pilot projects, contribute ideas for the next Smart City Challenge or hold an event.

Lukas Ott
Canton of Basel-Stadt

Initial partnerships and pilot projects on mobility, city logistics, light control, energy, traffic counting and 3D data are already in place at the Wolf site.

SmartSuisse 2019.

The third “SmartSuisse” took place on 10 and 11 April 2019 in the Congress Center Basel. With the slogan “Smart up Your City”, the industry conference and exhibition focused on intelligent solutions for sustainable urban development. SBB is a main partner of the event. In his keynote speech, CEO Andreas Meyer explained inter alia how the physical world can be improved using state-of-the-art digital technologies. He also pointed out the important role that data exchange between customers, businesses and authorities has to play in enhancing service quality and efficiency. As an antithesis to technological development, people and their quality of life are also gaining in importance. For more information on Smart Suisse, please visit


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Lukas Ott
Lukas Ott
Lukas Ott studied sociology, art history and botany at the University of Basel. As a publicist and consultant, he owned an office for political research and communication between 1997 and 2017. From 2000 to 2017, he was a city councillor and then semi-official mayor and head of the finance department of the city of Liestal. From 2006 to 2012, Lukas Ott was a judge at the Chamber for Criminal Proceedings for the Canton of Basel-Landschaft. He has been Head of Cantonal and Urban Development for Basel-Stadt since December 2017. In this capacity, Lukas Ott is also a member of the Smart City Basel Wolf steering committee.

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Philippe Stadler Benz
Philippe Stadler Benz
Philippe Stadler Benz is Senior Project Manager in the Smart City department at SBB. A graduate in environmental science from a Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, he also holds a further qualification in policy and business management. His focus and strengths lie in shaping and implementing strategies using new technologies.
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