Visiting Ulm. (From left to right: Antonija Scheible, CIO/CDO Stadtwerke Ulm/Managing Director at citysens ; Henning Krone, Managing Director at citysens; Secretary of State Dr Frank Nägele; Heribert Fritz, ulm.digital initiative; Karen Lassmann, Smart City Berlin Project Lead; Sabine Meigel, Head of the Digital Agenda Office, City of Ulm.

Visiting Ulm. (From left to right: Antonija Scheible, CIO/CDO Stadtwerke Ulm/Managing Director at citysens; Henning Krone, Managing Director at citysens; Secretary of State Dr Frank Nägele; Heribert Fritz, ulm.digital initiative; Karen Lassmann, Smart City Berlin Project Head; Sabine Meigel, Head of the Digital Agenda Office, City of Ulm. Photo: private source)

Smart City on Tour: Berlin Visits Ulm, Hamburg, Vienna and Linz

New ideas and inspiration were at the core of Dr Frank Nägele and Karen Lassmann’s visits to Ulm, Hamburg, Vienna and Linz. The Berlin State Secretary for Administrative and Infrastructure Modernisation and the Smart City Berlin Model Project Head went on tour in September and October to engage with their counterparts and find out more about their smart city projects and innovative approaches. 

What do Hamburg, Ulm, Vienna and Linz have in common? They have all gathered valuable experience in the field of smart cities over the course of numerous different approaches and projects. During their visits to the aforementioned cities, Secretary of State Dr Frank Nägele and Smart City Model Project Head Karen Lassmann gathered stimuli that may well be integrated into the way the Smart City Berlin is shaped in future. The smart city activities in Ulm, Hamburg, Vienna and Linz make them role models for Berlin – at least in some respects – and offer inspiration for future, possibly even joint, activities. 

Ulm (28/29 September 2021): A participative Smart City process

For the City of Ulm, smart city matters are a top priority. The same can be said about Berlin; after all, both municipalities are project cities within the Smart Cities Model Project line funded by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI). However, as the winner of the first edition of the funding line, the university town in Baden-Württemberg is one year ahead of Berlin. Ulm has since passed a Smart City Strategy, which was developed by means of an extraordinarily participative process – not unlike the one currently underway in the capital; Ulm’s urban society was closely involved in the process. Another interesting aspect is Ulm’s LoRaWAN (German only), an Internet of Things (IoT) that interested residents in Ulm and its surroundings can use at no extra cost. 

Linz (4/5 October 2021) and Vienna (5/6 October 2021): Smart City role models

When it comes to smart cities, the achievements of many Austrian municipalities are exemplary. This applies especially to Vienna and Linz, not least thanks to Ulrike Huemer, Head of Linz Council, who is actively involved in the smart city processes for both cities – and who also contributes to smart city activities in Berlin as a member of the Smart City Berlin Strategy Advisory Board.

In Linz,  Ulrike Huemer, Dr Frank Nägele and Karen Lassmann talked about the intersection of digitisation and organisational development; visits to the Ars Electronica Center  and its Future Lab as well as to the Tabakfabrik, a former tobacco factory that now houses a culture and creativity centre, provided inspiration in abundance.

In Vienna, the Berlin delegation met up with the chief information officer (CIO) of the Austrian capital, Klemens Himpele, as well as with the city’s data coordinator, Brigitte Lutz.  A visit to Urban Innovation Vienna (UIV) also gave the visitors new impetus. The think tank observes and analyses global trends and developments in Vienna and other metropolises; smart urban development is just one of the company’s focal points. The delegation was also delighted to hear about the PACE Team concept: part of the city council, this start-up takes a step back from standard processes, using innovative methods to develop new concepts and solutions for the city’s departments and residents, all with one aim: to promote Vienna as an innovative location. 

Hamburg (14 October 2021): Lively exchange on smart governance

Just like Ulm and Berlin, Hamburg is a Smart City Model Project. Which is why the Smart City Berlin project team’s visit led to lively conversations on a wide range of topics, in particular on the Connected Urban Twins model project, which Hamburg is conducting together with Leipzig and Munich. The delegation was also extremely interested in Hamburg’s governance programme, which Christian Pfromm, Chief Digital Officer (CDO) of the Hanseatic city, was happy to explain. In Hamburg, Secretary of State Dr Frank Nägele and Smart City Project Head Karen Lassmann were joined by the entire Smart City Berlin project team – to engage in talks with their Hamburg colleagues, establish contacts and gather new experiences and ideas.

Conclusion

Not only were the visits to Ulm, Hamburg, Vienna and Linz tremendously interesting for the Smart City Berlin project team but they also strengthened thematic and personal links to the four cities, in particular to Ulm and Hamburg, which, like Berlin, are part of the Smart City Model Project. However, for the mutual benefit of everyone involved, Berlin will expand its exchange of experiences with Vienna and Linz, who are already planning their own visits to the German capital. (vdo)