MobileCityGame project and MobileCity app

MobileCityGame won the German Mobiliy Prize (Deutscher Mobilitätspreis) 2023.
© takomat
Screenshot from MobileCity app

Mobility must change - but how? With the MobileCity app, you can playfully try out on your own cell phone what an ecologically and financially sustainable urban mobility system could look like by 2050.

Our MobileCity app is the result of the research project MobileCityGame and the first fully developed dynamic traffic and mobility model for easy scenario development, impact assessment and participation processes. The research project was awarded with the German Mobility Prize by Federal Minister of Transport Volker Wissing in 2023.

In the MobileCity app, users try to make transport in their city climate-neutral, convenient and financially viable. Build cycle lanes? Increase parking fees? Or set up additional e-charging stations? Players are in control and directly experience the consequences of their decisions for the environment, quality of life and the municipal budget. The first use case is the city of Karlsruhe.


What does the MobileCityGame project want to achieve?

The MobileCityGame offers urban planners, non-governmental organizations, the scientific community and the general public an intuitive tool for developing and evaluating scenarios for mobility planning in cities.


For whom is MobileCity app useful?

  • For political decision-making and urban development: Administrative decision-makers can use the MobileCity app to quickly evaluate future mobility paths for their city in meetings or workshops. With its survey and feedback features, the app can facilitate citizen participation.
  • For science and education: In schools and universities, the MobileCity app can be used to improve learners' understanding of the opportunities, limitations, and interdependencies of urban mobility systems. The built-in tutorial provides teaching incentives and the opportunity for knowledge transfer.
  • For communication and outreach: MobileCity app can help citizens to better understand policy making - and it's also fun! Its graphical interface and the link to real city maps can help to compare the actions in the game with the real developments in one's own home city.


Playfully shaping the transformation of urban mobility: The research behind our MobileCity app

Using a cooperative and interdisciplinary approach of gamification, citizen science and participation, the interdisciplinary research project MobileCityGame develops a computer-based serious game for the low-threshold and generally comprehensible illustration of complex traffic and urban planning contexts and decision options. Existing simulation models of traffic planning and development as well as technology and behavioral data are linked to a dynamic overall model with a planning horizon until 2050. The result of MobileCityGame is the MobileCity app, a fully operational and calibrated demonstrator of an interactive simulation game for urban sustainability and mobility policy using the example of the city of Karlsruhe.

Screenshots from MobileCity app

Climate neutrality by 2050 is the goal of the game. Users can try to reach this milestone with various measures.
Users can build bike lanes to make the transportation system more sustainable. However, this costs money and time.
Different measures have different effects on how long it takes citizens to get from A to B. This in turn affects the quality of life and satisfaction with the urban transport system.
Users can not only shape the infrastructure of their city, but also make administrative decisions. An increase in parking fees can improve the city's finances and motivate more people to use bicycles or public transport.
Detailed evaluations give players an overview of how their decisions affect life in the city. For example, they can see how many passenger kilometers are covered by which means of transportation.
In their attempt to implement a sustainable mobility system, users must always keep city finances in mind.

Designing sustainable mobility and transport systems in urban areas poses an enormous challenge due to limited space and the conflict of interests and objectives in terms of land use, lifestyle and quality of life, environmental and climate protection, economic efficiency, competitiveness, and comfort. New technologies and new forms of organizing mobility such as automated driving and ridesharing are making the design of sustainable urban mobility increasingly complex - but also exciting. The development of future concepts that fulfill all the dimensions of sustainability and are supported by as many interest groups as possible requires the active participation of citizens, companies and municipal offices. This is where the project MobileCityGame comes in with a fun and playful approach.  

Based on a cooperative and interdisciplinary approach of gamification, citizen science and participation, the MobileCityGame project offers a low-threshold and generally understandable platform to communicate the complex interrelations, possibilities and limits of the design of urban mobility systems for private individuals, educational institutions, science and municipalities. The users of the MobileCity app should thus gain a playful insight into the possibilities, limits, dependencies and effects of different approaches to urban mobility policy.

The MobileCityGame project is also intended to enable urban decision-makers to test and evaluate strategy and action options up to the year 2050 simply, quickly and cost-effectively. It thus complements common procedures for the preparation of transport development plans by adding a strategic and participatory component. Overall, MobileCity app is intended to make the cooperative and sustainable design of urban and mobility space easier and more transparent, in order to make it more livable and to arouse interest in politics and participation.

In the project MobileCityGame, a computer-based simulation game of the category “serious game“ is developed based on validated environmental, traffic and behavioral models. Existing simulation tools for traffic and economy of the project partners such as mobiTopp of KIT or ASTRA and ALADIN of Fraunhofer ISI, as well as data and analyses on technology and behavior trends are reduced to their essential functions and linked to a dynamic overall model via procedures of model-based system development. The modular system covers the following sub-areas:

  • Population and spatial development,
  • mobility services and infrastructures,
  • behavioral trends, new technologies, and
  • energy systems.

The overall model forms the computational core of the simulation game MobileCity app. In it, the computational core is supplemented by an interactive user interface with concrete features of the city of Karlsruhe. The players can choose from a variety of measures to influence and improve mobility and the cityscape, develop futures and experience their effects along the basic principles of sustainability: environmental, social, economic.

The basic features of the game take up existing serious game concepts such as Energetika or Twist++. Based on the runnable model calibrated for the city of Karlsruhe, interactive user workshops on strategy building for Karlsruhe until 2050 are conducted.

Previous events

MobileCity-Team at the IT-Trans 2022

On Thursday, May 12, 2022, a joint workshop of Fraunhofer ISI and KIT entitled "Designing the City of the Future" took place at IT-Trans 2022, the leading international trade fair and conference for IT solutions in the public transport sector. The SMART MOBILITY TALKS are a discussion forum of the city of Karlsruhe, KVV and TRK at the ÖPNV- IT-TRANS. In their first orientation in 2022, they dealt with current issues from the cosmos of mobility from the user perspective. The interactive workshop of the MobileCityGame project team offered both local and international insights into the mobility development of the future with the impulse of the city planning office Karlsruhe on the topic of "public space and mobility" and the impulse on climate mobility plans (by Dr. Niklas Sieber).

The discussion with the audience with live digital queries on the MobileCity app was very well received, as was the live demonstration of the Serious Game. And the panel discussion with experts and young representatives of the Fridays for Future and KAin Ticket initiatives was well attended until the end of the event. The event marked the start of a series of workshops on serious gaming, mobility and urban design as part of the MobileCityGame project.

© Fraunhofer ISI
Impressions from the first MobileCityGame workshop

First workshop on the MobileCityGame project

How can the MobileCity app reach different target groups - and which long-term application possibilities and revenue models are conceivable? These questions were discussed by members of the project team together with other interested parties at a workshop in the Triangle Open Space in Karlsruhe on January 18, 2023. The internal event served as a model for further workshops with external stakeholders.

From using the app in studies or in city planning offices, to offering guided work groups or live streaming sessions, to tailoring it to other cities, many areas of application are conceivable - as are a wide variety of additional features that ended up on the wish list of the test players during the interactive workshop.

Reducing complexity while preserving the essential interrelationships, interdependencies and impacts of different optional strategies and measures is the main scientific challenge of the MobileCityGame project.

The result of MobileCityGame project is the MobileCity app, a fully operational and calibrated demonstrator of an interactive simulation game for urban sustainability and mobility policy for Karlsruhe. Fields of application of the serious game will be explored by involving potential users from public administration, mobility providers and civil society and translated into a suitable game design.

In addition to testing new participatory formats using the simulation game, MobileCity app also provides information on the preferences of the players by evaluating the course of the game. These provide valuable information for social science mobility research.


01.09.2020 - 30.08.2023