Nadja Kirchhof


"Smart Region" - but with cream, please!

The Wunsiedel region becomes the "Smart Fichtelgebirge". The Telekom Smart City experts are supporting the digitization concept. The wishes of citizens and companies come first.

People show wishes

In the district of Wunsiedel, the citizens actively shape their world of tomorrow. © Deutsche Telekom

The Fichtelgebirge: the most rural of areas, with plenty of forest and even more countryside. Idyllic, but a little "off the beaten track". Even after decades spent growing up in an old town on the Rhine, I was drawn back to the countryside. A quick tour around the village, and then back home to my “office”. There I let the soundtrack of spring inspire my writing. All very well. But what about the everyday practicality of rural life? Aren't we leaving the modern world behind us, halfway along the country road, between town and village?

But in this provincial area, something amazing is happening ...

"Smart Fichtelgebirge" – that already sounds quite different! With this slogan, the region Wunsiedel is entering into its digital future. Telemedicine is no longer a foreign word here. The region is also considered a pioneer in terms of mobility and energy. Now the district has attracted some well-deserved recognition: Wunsiedel is the only district so far to be selected by the Federal Ministry of the Interior as a Smart City model region. A subsidy of 15 million euros is on the cards. A holistic concept is now to be developed to make the rural area even more liveable. Green and socially responsible, but also economically attractive. Perhaps the concept can later be transferred to other rural regions. At any rate, that is the aim of the project.

Citizens can themselves start to shape their own tomorrow. Today the so-called citizen participation process was presented to the public. An online portal was developed specifically for this purpose. Here, citizens vote on digitization measures that can make their everyday lives easier in the short term and ensure the region's future viability. This relates to digital administration, digital learning and teaching, or simply finding a parking space. Shopping at the local grocery store could be delivered directly to the home thanks to digital ordering. Or a communication platform for seniors living alone could provide them with some much-appreciated companionship in the future – a digital coffee date, so to speak. More reliable public transport is probably on every Smart City’s wish list. Hydrogen-powered and self-driving buses would probably be the icing on the cake for the smart Fichtelgebirge. 

The digitization strategy is to be completed by the end of the year, supported by the Telekom Smart City Experts. Now the Fichtelgebirge residents have it in their hands to show city dwellers how rural life is today, with all the digital advantages. The Spanish metropolis of Barcelona is also relying on this participatory model. For the city's digital boss, Francesca Bria, one thing is clear: a good digital city is one designed by its citizens. So the model is winning people over, in the country as well as in the city.

Telekom launches Smart City Co-Creation Toolbox

Telekom launches Smart City Co-Creation Toolbox

Partnership with United Nations and German Association of Towns and Municipalities (DStGB).