German cities harness data-driven approach for low carbon transport development and sustainable mobility planning
2 min read

German cities harness data-driven approach for low carbon transport development and sustainable mobility planning

According to the European Environmental Agency, CO2 emissions from passenger cars in the 27 EU Member States increased by 5.8%, and emissions from heavy goods vehicles increased by 5.5%, from 2000 to 2019. Against the backdrop of ambitious climate targets, local governments are increasingly turning to data-driven decision-making, innovative tools and platforms to drive mitigation actions related to transport emissions and environmental impacts. These tools are embedded in sustainable urban mobility plans and policies.

ICLEI Europe has been analysing Google's Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE) since 2021 and the tool offers a wealth of data and functionalities that support urban practitioners and policy makers. In the context of this work, ICLEI Europe collaborated with Google and engaged a number of German cities including ICLEI Members Hamburg and Ludwigsburg, as well as the cities of Cologne and Ravensburg to explore and encourage the use of EIE data sets and identify application use cases in strategic sectors, such as transport. Building on this work, ICLEI Europe developed a handbook for German cities to provide stakeholders with guidance on key steps to access and assess EIE transport data as well as on how data sets could be used in sustainable urban mobility planning.

Google’s EIE provides a globally standardised and freely available dataset, enabling cities to estimate emissions from buildings, transport, and even the potential for solar panel installations on rooftops. It also offers valuable data on tree cover and air quality. For local governments, this data holds immense value in estimating emissions, analysing mobility trends, and monitoring progress towards climate goals. ICLEI Member Hamburg, which is featured in the handbook, analysed EIE data and views it as a source for providing an overview of traffic volume and transportation modes that would otherwise require complex surveys. By engaging in direct communication with Google, the City of Hamburg has actively contributed to the platform's further development.

To effectively utilise the platform and its datasets, a step-by-step process is recommended. This includes generating interest, gaining access to the free data, understanding and reviewing the datasets, and conducting data analyses with experts to inform climate action planning in the transport sector. The handbook offers German local governments a powerful resource to understand and gain access to EIE transport data. It serves as a valuable starting point for practitioners and policy makers, encouraging them to explore and exploit the potential of EIE data for evidence-based decision-making. By leveraging digital tools like EIE, cities can accelerate transformations that are inclusive, smart, climate-friendly and resilient.

To review “German smart cities on the way to using the Environmental Insights Explorer by Google: A handbook for municipalities” click here.

Cities are encouraged to contact ICLEI Europe via email ( in case they are interested in exploring the Google EIE tool.

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