Morgenstadt index

Holistic governance of a city


Cities contain many moving parts and city managers have to deal constantly with balancing and reassessing shifting priorities. Combined with short term political cycles, this complexity leads to a tendency to focus on short-term objectives, often neglecting important responsibilities that are imperative for maintaining or improving the city’s position in the long term. Within the innovation network, the partners expressed early interest in an instrument to assist mayors, city councils and departments in achieving a more holistic perspective of their city to facilitate long-term strategic management.

An interdisciplinary research team from the Fraunhofer Society identified 28 indicators that were categorized under four central themes (quality of life, environmental consciousness, innovation and resilience) in order to measure the future viability of a city. Through the graphic visualization of the results, the Morgenstadt City-Index offers a snapshot of a city and a guide for city managers to help balance priorities across these four important areas.


Challenges for swarm cities


Researchers selected a range of German “swarm” cities as an initial basis of investigation. “Swarm” cities can be identified as those experiencing an increase in population especially for students and young professionals. A city is considered a “swarm” city if the age group "20 to 34" increased their share of the population in the years 2008 to 2013 (considering many regions have suffered significant migration of this group during this period).


Berlins performance measured with the Morgenstadt city index

Index Methodology


Based on key insights of the first two phases of the Morgenstadt Project, four pillars were identified as central to the future viability of a city. A sustainable urban development process must be geared towards improved quality of life, social integration, economic prosperity all achieved within the confines of planetary limits.


•    The Livable City offers its citizens jobs, a healthy distribution of wealth, long term security, attractive public spaces that invite interaction and a pleasant environmental atmosphere. These aspects are not only important because of their intrinsic value, but are also considered important "soft” location factors, attracting companies to livable cities in their pursuit of retaining highly qualified workers.

•    The Resilient City is flexible, agile and well prepared for sudden or permanent changes in climatic, demographic or economic conditions.

•    The Environmentally Conscious City makes its contribution to the phasing-out of the CO2-based economy, strives for the sustainable use of resources and takes into account the other limits of our planetary boundaries.

•    The Innovative City embraces experimentation as a laboratory of the future, becoming an attractive location for research facilities and highly qualified workers. It is an incubator for social and technical innovations that develop into the solutions for urban challenges of today and tomorrow.


The Index provides general, yet accurate, representation of urban performance derived from statistics and data already available and thus does not require costly surveys. The project originally included 30 cities, but is also available for other interested cities or municipalities. In addition to identifying strengths and weaknesses in relation to other cities, the Index also presents a baseline for a city’s strategy for improvement. The enclosed documentation shows the approach and results using the example of cities deemed particularly attractive for young people and are therefore regarded as the forerunners among the German "swarm” cities. Please contact us if the project could be of interest to your municipality.

Four pillars model

The Fraunhofer researchers of the Morgenstadt have developed together with the partner cities and industry the four pillars model which presents the future capacity of a city.

Opinions about the Morgenstadt City Index

Denis Peisker, Head of the Department of Environment in Jena

"In terms of sustainability, it is sometimes difficult to focus on the key aspects in the context of limited human and financial resources. My expectation is that that by comparing with other cities facing similar problems, we may be able to find common ground in solving them that we have not considered in the past."

Herr Alanus von Radecki, Head of Urban Governance Innovation at Fraunhofer IAO

what do you recommend to cities that have been assessed using the Morgenstadt Index?

"I wouldn’t have the same recommendations for all of them, of course. The first stage is the general analysis using the Morgenstadt City Index. In order to achieve a more detailed understanding, an in-depth, individual analysis of the city with its unique factors and social, economic, political, technological and spatial characteristics is necessary."

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