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People are at the centre of the smart city

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Shaping the digital future with people – this is the vision of the Federally funded "Model Projects Smart Cities". In a virtual event from Mayen-Koblenz, 150 municipal stakeholders met for the first regional conference. It was organised by the Coordination and Transfer Office, which is managed by DLR Projektträger (DLR-PT).

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24th March 2022 — On behalf of the Federal Ministry of Housing, Urban Development and Building (BMWSB), the Coordination and Transfer Office (KTS) "Model Projects Smart Cities" (MPSC) has set itself the goal of spreading knowledge about smart and sustainable urban development. The first regional conference, which it organised together with the funded district of Mayen-Koblenz, was one activity in this context. Under the motto "Develop smart city strategies together and seize opportunities in my region", the regional conference was the successful start for the transfer of knowledge and the networking of all municipalities interested in the topic of smart city.

"The regional conferences are a building block of the KTS aimed at developing a smart city community of practice, science, politics and civil society in Germany," Matthias Woiwode von Gilardi, Head of KTS at DLR-PT, noted, explaining the goal of the conference series. He emphasised how important it was, especially in times of crisis, to think about other, new areas of coexistence and to make the transfer from crisis to shaping the future. "For this, we as KTS bundle knowledge and experience and make this available to all cities and municipalities," Woiwode said.

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"The regional conferences are a building block of KTS to develop a smart city community of practice, science, politics and civil society in Germany."

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Matthias Woiwode von Gilardi
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Head of KTS, DLR-PT
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Matthias Woiwode von Gilardi
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The smart city as a strategy

Now having hosted the first regional conference, the Mayen-Koblenz district has been developing its smart city strategy since 2019, with the support of the Federal Government. The central concern of the "Smart Region MYK10" is to align it with the needs of the people. "We understand digitalisation as a multifunctional tool that can contribute decisively to solving a wide variety of challenges," said District Administrator of Mayen-Koblenz, Alexander Saftig, at the conference. "Our goal is to make everyday life of everyone in the district smarter – that means more pleasant, easier, more sustainable and more efficient."

With this notion of digitalisation, the Mayen-Koblenz district is also following how the BMWSB understands it. "Anyone who wants to build a smart city needs a holistic strategy and should understand 'strategy' as a concept on the way to the future," said Stephan Günthner from the Smart Cities Department at the BMWSB. Developing the strategy, he noted, was an opportunity to become clear about the goals in a democratic process and then select the right measures to achieve them.

Actively shaping digitisation

Therefore, the regional conference also focused on the development of strategies for actively shaping digitalisation in the sense of integrated and future-oriented urban development. Christoph Walther from the agency Urban Catalyst, a partner in the KTS consortium, presented the handout "Shaping the Digital City" in his keynote speech and looked at the essential conditions for the successful implementation of smart city strategies.

Sonja Gröntgen, Chief Digital Officer of Mayen-Koblenz, then gave a brief insight into the many projects of the district and explained its smart city strategy. Afterwards, a moderated discussion on the topic "My vision of a smart city becomes reality when..." with representatives from the regional MPSCs was dedicated to the different regional influences and challenges. At the end of the conference, participants were able to contribute their own ideas and experiences to the discussion in three breakout sessions on the topics of "Narratives of the Smart City", "Strategy Development" and "Successful Actor Networks".

With the first MPSC regional conferences, a wide range of municipalities now have opportunities to exchange experiences and reflect on their own smart city approaches. Further regional conferences will follow.

The KTS Model Projects Smart Cities

On behalf of the BMWSB, the KTS acts as a central contact point for knowledge transfer and networking on the topic of smart cities. It initiates the exchange of experience among the MPSC and all interested municipalities in Germany. New solutions for integrated urban development are created in the model projects. The KTS pools the knowledge gained and makes this accumulated knowledge accessible to all non-funded municipalities by helping to build regional learning networks and development communities with and around the MPSCs.

The Federal Government has been funding the Smart Cities model projects since 2019. They pursue the goal of using the opportunities of digitalisation for the benefit of public welfare-oriented and integrated urban development throughout Germany. In the model projects, new solutions are created that are carried into the broad municipal landscape.

Main and Other Contacts

Contact at DLR Projektträger