Heidelberg is shaping digital transition
A Smart City implements intelligent solutions for various aspects of urban development using innovative technologies. Heidelberg already has the necessary attributes for becoming a Smart City of the future. The city is a pioneer and leader in many fields – not least in medicine and education.
But Heidelberg hopes not simply to maintain its current status: The city’s aim is to further develop and raise the high quality of life it offers through innovative and digital solutions. Digitalization will enable the city to expand and improve existing services. In particular, services for local people will be made more transparent by accelerating and simplifying administrative processes.
Throughout this process, Heidelberg is committed to a sustainable and holistic approach, through which the unique character of the city on the River Neckar can be respected and preserved. Moreover, Heidelberg takes data protection very seriously. The staff responsible for overseeing freedom of information and open data work closely with experts in the field of data protection – thereby ensuring that personal data are protected.
Heidelberg has outstanding partners from the fields of science, research and business in the city and across the region: These include the University of Heidelberg, the SRH University Heidelberg, the University of Education (PH), and companies such as SAP, SAS, NEC Europe and Ameria. These partnerships facilitate direct exchange with experts from science and research. The city also gets innovative inspiration from the International Building Exhibition (IBA) “Wissen|schafft|Stadt”.
One example is Heidelberg Innovation Park (hip) at Patton Barracks, where a hotspot for companies in the IT, bioinformatics, digital media and design sectors is being created. Heidelberg is working hard to encourage more companies to locate there. Our aim is to follow the example of our sister city Palo Alto in the United States by creating ideal conditions for exchange and collaboration for experts from the IT sector.
Bitkom competition: Starting signal for the digital transition
In 2017, the German telecommunications association Bitkom launched the “Digital City” competition in partnership with the German Association of Towns and Municipalities (DStGB). This unique flagship project is designed to demonstrate what the city of the future might look like based on state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure and innovative solutions in a range of sectors, including the environment, transport and local government.
Heidelberg squared up to the challenge and entered the competition with support from the scientific, business, political and local communities. Heidelberg was the only city in the State of Baden-Württemberg to reach the final round in the entry process along with Wolfsburg, Darmstadt, Kaiserslautern and Paderborn. Our entry was not quite enough to earn the title “Digital City” – the city of Darmstadt was pronounced the winner at the German Government’s Digital Summit in June 2017. Even though the city “only” made it through to the final round, Heidelberg is continuing its development as a Digital City, with a view to cementing its position as a digital pioneer.