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Martina Morawietz

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To the next level with Digitalstadt Darmstadt

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Darmstadt won Bitkom's Smart City competition "Digitale Stadt" in 2017. In the competition, Deutsche Telekom acted as a partner and developed solutions with Digitalstadt Darmstadt, particularly in the areas of environment and mobility as well as network infrastructures and data platforms. After three years, the competition phase has ended and is being transferred to a new phase of cooperation. Darmstadt and Deutsche Telekom sealed this step on August 18, 2020 with a cooperation agreement. The range of topics will be expanded. Representatives of the city, the municipal economy and TU Darmstadt worked out relevant subjects together with Deutsche Telekom in a cooperation workshop. Jens Mühlner accompanied the competition and the implementation of the Deutsche Telekom projects over a period of three years as head of the Digitalstadt Darmstadt program at Deutsche Telekom. He hands over the baton to Katrin Seeger, who will support the cooperation as local representative. A review of the successes and a look ahead.

The Science City of Darmstadt and Deutsche Telekom have described their future cooperation in a cooperation agreement. What does this mean?  

Jens Mühlner: Winning the Smart City Bitkom competition "Digitale Stadt" was an important milestone for the ambitious goal of the Hessian city: It wants to become a digital model city with European lighthouse character. Darmstadt wants to avoid double developments as far as possible. In other words, not to develop something new that others have already drawn up. The City of Science wants to learn together with and from each other. We need cities that lead the way as innovators. Deutsche Telekom wants to continue to support Darmstadt in its role as an "innovation cluster" and role model for others in Germany - and hopefully increasingly in Europe as well. With the agreement signed today, we have created the basis for doing this even more closely and cooperatively than before.

Katrin Seeger: We are now taking the next step in evolution. Deutsche Telekom wants to make cities and regions smarter. For a better quality of life. For greater attractiveness, cost-effectiveness and sustainability through digitization. Such a project is no flash in the pan. Now it's important for all those involved that we don't stop at a one-off impetus. It is important to continue along the path we have taken and to set new innovative stimuli. Innovation does not mean testing technology in pilot operations. Innovation means bringing new ideas to a sustainable implementation, that is to regular operation. To do this, you need reliable, stable partners.

How has the cooperation been so far?  

Jens Mühlner: The Bitkom competition has brought a holistic view. In Darmstadt, Digitalstadt Darmstadt GmbH has been explicitly set up for coordinating the projects and stakeholders. All players came to one table. Such an approach accelerates projects that cities have put on the agenda for their citizens. Of course, the co-creation approach introduced by Deutsche Telekom helped here. This creative process is all about understanding the needs and different perspectives of citizens, city representatives and companies as precisely as possible and integrating them right from the start. The creativity of as many participants as possible is included. We have lived this method for over two years. In particular, there were good grades for collegiality. We have achieved the goals.

Katrin Seeger: The new cooperation also requires fast innovative action that is consistently geared to the requirements. Accordingly, we have combined the start of the cooperation directly with a workshop. We gathered many important challenges and opportunities that Darmstadt now faces. We have clarified how we will tackle these tasks with which players. The basis for a joint project approach has been laid. Topic sponsors and experts, both from Darmstadt and Deutsche Telekom, will jointly assume responsibility for the next steps.

What projects are the focus now?

Jens Mühlner: We have jointly designed, piloted and implemented nine projects as part of the Bitkom competition. A focus was on the area of "environment and mobility". First and foremost, this included the sensor station for high-quality digital measurement of air quality, CityTree for active improvement of the air and Smart Parking for a reduction in traffic of those searching for a parking space. Another focus was on network infrastructures and data platforms. A special moment for all project participants and the public was the presentation of the 5G test field. After Berlin and Hamburg, Darmstadt was Telekom's third location in Germany to implement such a 5G test field. Accordingly, we are involved in the "5G partially automated tram" project, which is testing the possibilities of a remote-controlled tram. In the area of "e-government", for example, we have installed the Citizens' Terminal together with buergerservice.org. The topics of environment and mobility as well as network infrastructures and data platforms will be continued.

Katrin Seeger: Darmstadt is in the front row of Germany's smart cities. We want to support the continuous and sustainable strengthening of this city’s digital transformation. Our common goal is to be able to test and offer Deutsche Telekom's services in Darmstadt in live operation even earlier than in other cities. Deutsche Telekom has broad experience in the Smart City area and can offer the full range of solutions: network, information and communications technology, solutions in the Internet of Things and security. We are adding new topics such as resilience and artificial intelligence. For resilient digital cities, cybersecurity plays a major role. Thanks to artificial intelligence, a city's data can be used for completely new applications and forecasts, for example in healthcare or for measuring air quality and for environmentally sensitive traffic control. Our goal is to work together with Darmstadt to create solutions that can also be transferred to other cities. We are thus setting and influencing standards for sustainable smart cities. They will haven an impact from Digitalstadt Darmstadt to other cities and regions in Germany and Europe.

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