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 | Smart City Study 2022: Germany’s Cities Are Missing Out On the Digitalization Trend

Smart City Study 2022: Germany’s Cities Are Missing Out On the Digitalization Trend


Germany’s cities are failing to live up to the role which is required of them in relation to the climate transformation issue! This is one finding of our current Smart City Study, which is the largest survey of its kind in Germany. We list every municipality with a population of more than 30,000 according to its level of digitalization; our current ranking covers some 407 cities.

Our top 10 in this ranking is as follows:

  1. Hamburg: 47,4 Prozent
  2. Munich: 46,2 Prozent
  3. Cologne: 45,8 Prozent
  4. Wolfsburg: 43,0 Prozent
  5. Gelsenkirchen: 42,5 Prozent
  6. Darmstadt: 40,5 Prozent
  7. Mannheim: 38,5 Prozent
  8. Bad Nauheim: 37,6 Prozent
  9. Berlin: 36,8 Prozent
  10. Norderstedt: 36,3 Prozent

The overall conclusion for our 2022 study thus makes for sobering reading: We have now carried out this study over the past five years, and none of the cities examined has yet achieved a digitalization level of more than 50 percent. On the contrary, more than three quarters of these municipalities actually have a rating below 25 percent. What is more, particularly when considered in the context of the original study which we carried out back in 2018, it is clear that the number of cities which are digital pioneers is largely stagnating and that Germany’s smart cities thus remain in a state of hibernation.

For our founder, Dr. Arno Haselhorst, the results clearly demonstrate that unless cities begin to address Smart City issues rapidly and comprehensively, the high level of carbon emissions will in the foreseeable future already greatly restrict their inhabitants’ quality of life. This is because “Smart City is much more than just a digitalization project carried out in isolation in a particular area. Instead, smart urban development is underpinned by a holistic concept which fleshes out in detail how digitalization can help to achieve a sustainable long-term model for urban living,” Dr. Haselhorst explains. “In view of the current energy crisis and our climate goals, there is an urgent need for action here – on the part of cities as well as municipal utilities.”

Jürgen Germies: “Cities and municipal utilities need to cooperate in a combined effort”

Our team of consultants have identified three factors which play a key role in an urban community successfully transforming itself into a smart city: a comprehensive, long-term strategy; a well-developed digital infrastructure; and the involvement of all relevant stakeholders and the general public early on and on an ongoing basis. “A city cannot successfully transform itself into a smart city on its own. Instead, it needs to closely cooperate with the local municipal utilities, so as to jointly achieve the rollout of digital infrastructure and thus establish a basis enabling the realization of innovative projects,” our Managing Partner and author of the study, Jürgen Germies, is convinced.

Stralsund is one such city which has impressively recognized the potential which digitalization offers from the point of view of its sustainable development. In 2022, this municipality in Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania with a population of almost 60,000 is the city which has achieved the biggest improvement year-on-year and has now reached 76th place in our ranking (2021: ranked 362). Stralsund has not only adopted a comprehensive Smart City strategy, with the goal of becoming an emissions-free city, while having already successfully implemented several innovative measures to this end. Above all, in its process of transformation this Hanseatic city has brought its citizens on board right from the start and is energetically focusing on forging ahead with the development of its renewable energy infrastructure.

For the purpose of this study, we have assessed Germany’s cities in relation to ten different Smart City areas: Strategy and Implementation, Digital Infrastructure, Digital Mobility, Digital Energy & the Environment, Digital Buildings & Neighborhoods, Digital Health, Digital Education, Digital Administration, Digital Trade & Business and Digital Tourism. A level of digitalization is calculated on the basis of these individual results and these municipalities are ranked accordingly. The survey is based on more than 32,500 data records, comprising quantitative data as well as a qualitative assessment of these municipalities’ Smart City initiatives which are visible to the general public.

The 2022 Ranking

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Smart City

Together with municipal utilities and public authorities, we develop forward-looking concepts covering every aspect of digital public services and help them to successfully enter the Smart City market.


If you would like to find out more about the current results of our 2022 Smart City Ranking, please contact Dr. Lucia Wright, who is a Senior Consultant and a co-author of this study.

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