In smart cities and smart regions, digital technologies are becoming an integral part of urban planning. In this way, cities and rural districts are promoting networking, mobility and self-determination, and are thus ensuring a higher quality of life and equal living conditions in the city and in the countryside in the long term. Many local authorities have recognised this potential: A study shows that in 2019, 80% of municipalities were already planning or had already drawn up a strategy for digital change.
The Urban.Rural.Digital initiative, which is being undertaken on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, provides support, information and advice on how to design and implement digital strategies. The platform is aimed at all relevant actors and interest groups at federal, Länder and municipal level, as well as companies, associations and civil society.
Participating, sharing information, and feeding in ideas
In Germany, many people are already involved in efforts to digitalise services in the regions. Urban.Rural.Digital enables all interested parties to network and share information with each other. In addition to its newsletter, the platform also drafts reports on relevant developments and best practices, networking meetings and local workshops in various regions, as well as studies on the topic of smart cities and smart regions.
The Urban.Rural.Digital platform compiles a database of events, initiatives and studies. The database can be searched for specific information or browsed freely.
Urban.Rural.Digital helps local authorities to master the manifold tasks linked to the digitalisation of their services. This includes putting on workshops to help identify the challenges and develop appropriate solutions. These workshops provide a platform for networking and exchanging experience between actors from the political sphere and administration, from commercial enterprises, business development agencies, municipal companies, business associations and regional associations, together with the general public.
Urban.Rural.Digital regularly conducts representative surveys on digitalisation strategies as part of municipal studies. The studies provide insights into the state of digitalisation, the implementation of municipal strategies, as well as the current trends and long-term developments in the digital transformation.
The two competitions for ideas – ‘Urban.Rural.Digital’ and ‘Germany’s smart regions’ – and the ‘Competition for best-practice projects’ have collectively attracted a total of around 500 entries. The submissions range from broad-based strategies to regional solutions in the sectors of education, energy, health, mobility and administration, which are important for digitalisation. All entries to the competitions can be found on the initiative's website.
The Urban.Rural.Digital newsletter is dedicated to key topics in the field of smart cities and smart regions. In addition to reporting on current activities taking place as part of the initiative, the newsletter also presents examples of good practice from Germany and abroad and relays information on new political and economic decisions. Its contributors include digitalisation commissioners and chief digital officers, who provide insights into the digital opportunities and challenges confronting them in their respective municipalities. A subscription service and newsletter archive can both be found on the initiative’s website.
The origins of the initiative
Urban.Rural.Digital originally started out as the Smart Networking Initiative, which served to support the implementation of the Smart Networking Strategy. The aim was to improve digital networking in the five sectors of education, energy, health, transport and administration. In developing the initiative into Urban.Rural.Digital, it now covers a wider range of topics. The initiative is now a point of contact on economic, political and social issues relating to smart cities and smart regions.