15 October 2012

Sacha Schlobinski: cities harmony protected from climate change

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New tools help urban planners watch in 3-D how climate change may affect their city

Sacha Schlobinski looks to the future when working at his day job as CEO of Cismet. This software company, based in Saarbrücken, Germany, takes the lead role in the information communication technology part of SUDPLAN. The latter is a project designed to make it easier for urban planners to assess the impact of climate change on their city.

For his day job, Schlobinski designs software for local government officials with digital maps and environmental information included. Schlobinski, by night, entertains the people of Saarbrücken, Germany, with classic rock music.  As the base player in a band called Easy Driver, he plays retro rock hits from groups like Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin and the Eagles.   

A far cry from keeping the rhythm on track for rock ballads, his challenge when designing a solution to help urban planners anticipate the effect of climate change was to harmonise a team of different types of software developers from across Europe. They hope to hit the right note and develop a web-based tool that is easy for planners to play around with before making important planning decisions.

“From a computer science point of view, climate change data is more or less regular environmental information,” he says, “The major challenge was the multi-tiered integration processes. Although we are all software developers, we have different backgrounds and different understandings as to what software integration is.”

Schlobinski says Cismet is an IT company and it cannot be picky about research projects. But this particular project deals with an interesting and rewarding topic.  “Urban planners will be enabled to use climate change information for their planning, which was not straightforward before SUDPLAN.” It takes global climate change and its environmental impact down to urban and street level, in a form useful for all European cities.  “The planning now can be much more sustainable and hopefully climate change aware urban planning will help to enhance the situation for citizens living with changed environmental condition due to climate change,” he says.

He is hoping to welcome lots of potential users to a workshop in Wuppertal, Germany, in October 2012 to show off the results.  Every large municipality could make use of this climate change information, so this is real added value for Europe, says the IT expert.  “If you had wanted to include climate change in your planning process today, that was a little far-fetched because the technology wasn’t there. Now, there is a method to bring climate change down to the [scale of] urban planning problems.”

While not developing software or practicing with his band, Schlobinski is a busy father of a two-year-old daughter who sometimes finds time to relax with a good sci-fi book.  So far, Easy Driver has no plans to play at the workshop.

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