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Johannes Maisack

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Deutsche Telekom working with mayors on digital cities

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  • More than 100 municipal decision-makers met with Deutsche Telekom in Cologne
  • Open discussion of obstacles to network build-out
  • Six Group Representatives for the regions were introduced
Open dialog at the Digital X event.

Open dialog at the Digital X event: Deutsche Telekom Board member for Germany Dirk Wössner (right) addresses the audience. With Gerd Landsberg (President of the German Association of Towns and Municipalities, 2nd from the right), Markus Keller (Senior Vice President Smart City, Deutsche Telekom, 3rd from the right), Julia Egenolf (manager of the GrowSmarter project by the City of Cologne) and Philipp Schindera (left, Senior Vice President Corporate Communications, Deutsche Telekom).

Deutsche Telekom met with over a hundred mayors and municipal decision-makers in Cologne today, to discuss the challenges of digitalization and the network build-out. And work together on solutions for the digital city of tomorrow. The "Mayors' Dialog" attracted mayors and municipal decision-makers from all over Germany to the Digital X event. 

In her opening statement, Henriette Reker, Lord Mayor of the City of Cologne, spoke of an important impulse that emanated from this event. "Nobody is able to digitize communities on their own. This is an effort in which different interests have to be reconciled - the interests of citizens, companies and public institutions. I find it valuable today to talk especially about where our challenges lie."

In a panel discussion, Dirk Wössner, head of Deutsche Telekom’s Germany business, spoke with Gerd Landsberg, President of the German Association of Towns and Municipalities, and Julia Egenolf, manager of the GrowSmarter project by the City of Cologne. The debate focused on the results of an online survey, in which around 1,000 municipal representatives in Germany had taken part ahead of the event. 

The key points: 

  • Local residents want to be involved, which increases planning complexity. Projects increasingly face the risk of delay, or even failure, due to the wide variety of reconciliation procedures.
  • Projects related to the Internet of Things (IoT) often fail. They either neglect to take the technical prerequisites in a city into account sufficiently or the city administration sets different priorities. 
  • Whether the municipalities are large or small, there is a shortage of digitalization experts. They are attracted to industry instead. 

There was a general consensus that digitalization projects require collaboration – between cities and with industry partners and residents. This is where Deutsche Telekom is setting its focus, with its partners – the German Association of Towns and Municipalities and subsidiaries of the United Nations (UN) – under the term "co-creation". Together with the cities, the company is identifying the key challenges and has proposed 22 ideas for testing. The participants in Cologne had the opportunity to assess solutions for smart traffic management, air quality, and waste disposal, among others, generating valuable feedback for Deutsche Telekom and its partners. 

"I hope that our co-creation program will provide valuable impetus. I'm counting on the fact that when it comes to the digital city, all of you are already thinking about the future today, in a practical, pragmatic, non-bureaucratic way," said Dirk Wössner, head of Deutsche Telekom’s Germany business, to the audience. "Fast, secure networks form the foundation for the digital city. We are investing over five billion euros in Germany's digital infrastructure every year, to ensure to ensure that industry and municipalities have every opportunity to benefit. Deutsche Telekom is a reliable partner," said Wössner. 

With a length of over 500,000 kilometers, Deutsche Telekom not only operates the longest fiber-optic network in Europe; it also recently activated its 30,000th mobile base station. 

Gerd Landsberg believes that digitalization is "the key factor in ensuring that cities and municipalities remain successful in the future. Whether traffic management, waste disposal, sustainability, safety, or security: most cities and municipalities need support from industry to manage these central issues in the coming decades. "

In the open discussion, several mayors and municipal decision-makers expressed their desires and reservations. Coverage with adequate speeds in both the fixed-line and mobile networks is a central demand for local governments. Faster networks, faster build-out – local residents and companies regularly express these demands. Dirk Wössner addressed this topic. "We're all in the same boat here. Deutsche Telekom also wants a fast, efficient build-out. But to do so, we need alternative installation methods and much faster approval procedures. We want to build and connect people and companies, not waste our time in the waiting rooms of bureaucracy."

To improve communications with municipalities, six Group Representatives from Deutsche Telekom have been appointed to attend to the needs of the regions. They introduced themselves at the event. Many cities and municipalities in Germany want a face and a name that they associate with Deutsche Telekom. That is what the Group's authorized representatives are for. The shorter distances should accelerate the expansion of broadband and mobile networks.

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