Digital Public Services entails the development of infrastructure to cover the entire range of data traffic for municipalities, towns and cities and its continuous upgrading in line with a needs-based approach. This includes comprehensive fiber-optic networks and mobile solutions for rapid data transfer. It involves the creation of a charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, the establishment of smart grids and the systematic development of entire smart cities. Municipalities and their utilities have an obligation to provide Digital Public Services in order to safeguard the competitiveness of their city and their region’s economy.
Smart City is a modern urban development concept which is based on comprehensive digital infrastructures. It brings together people, data and the use of new information and communication technologies in an urban, multisectoral space. Smart cities will become attractive economic centers for citizens and companies alike thanks to comprehensive digitalization of all key areas – from the supply of green energy, electromobility and intelligent traffic management via building and security technologies to digital solutions in the fields of education, healthcare and electronic administration.
Cooperation between cities, municipal utilities and industrial enterprises, the integration of start-ups’ innovative ideas, developing networks of experts and the inclusion of the local population are the key factors in the development of smart cities. Only through the systematic, continuous and solution-oriented interaction of all of the stakeholder groups involved is it possible to successfully implement projects of this scope.
Haselhorst Associates updated its 2018 “Digital Germany” Smart City Ranking in November 2019. This very clearly illustrated that Germany is now well aware of the “Digital Public Services” and “Smart City” topics. However, it is equally clear that it still has a great deal of ground to make up, particularly in relation to digital infrastructure (fiber-optic networks) and the design of holistic Smart City strategies. Only with these types of modern urban development concepts will cities remain attractive for citizens and companies in the medium and long term.
Digitalization and Smart City are of particular strategic significance for municipal utilities, since their traditional business models are now on the decline. Smart municipal utilities are actively responding to this trend. Their managers are seeking out a new strategic positioning and are open to new business models. They are digitalizing their internal processes and developing diverse, individual and, above-all, forward-looking business models which are focused not only on a green energy supply system but also on their role as utilities providing “Digital Public Services.” Municipal utilities will thus help to drive the process of digital transformation and will play a key role in the development of smart cities.
The digital transformation of all areas of life is happening today and holds great opportunities for cities, municipal utilities and the economy. Positioning themselves as smart cities enables municipalities to stand out from the competition and ensure the long-term attractiveness of a city or region for both citizens and businesses through intelligent networking.