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Smart City Index 2022: Hamburg remains top performer

City lights from above

The Smart City Index is the digital ranking of major German cities that measures the progress of digitalization. Experts from Bitkom collect and evaluate around 11,000 data points in five subject areas, including online citizen services, sharing offers for mobility and broadband availability. Cities with 100,000 or more inhabitants are scrutinized in the Smart City Index. For each city, 133 parameters were calculated. Last year's index showed that all cities have made progress in digitalization, but the pace varies.

Hamburg narrowly defended its top spot in 2022, followed by Munich and Dresden. "There is an enormous digital drive in the cities and no one wants to rest on their laurels. A currently good ranking is no guarantee of a good performance next year," said Bitkom President Achim Berg when presenting the results ahead of the Smart Country Convention. Success factors for a smart city continue to be a committed city administration and local politics, clear structures, a strong local network and the participation of the population. "Regardless of the size and financial strength of a city, it is crucial that politics and administration get down to work. It takes the will and the ability to generate enthusiasm for digitalization throughout the city," says Berg.

North, south and east among the top 3

With 86.1 out of 100 points, Hamburg holds the title of Germany's smartest city for the fourth time in a row. Munich is only just behind in second place with 85.3 points. Dresden improves to third place with 81.6 points. Nuremberg, Aachen and Düsseldorf are newcomers to the top 10. Large cities and university towns perform better on average than smaller cities and those without universities, the Smart City Index 2022 shows.

Administration

According to the Online Access Act, all of the nearly 600 administrative services should be available digitally by the end of 2022. In reality, only about one-fifth are currently accessible nationwide. Administrative digitalization in Germany lags far behind the goals of the OZG. Surveys show that many people perceive the authorities as overloaded and slow. The majority of Germans are calling for greater pursuit of digitalization in their city or municipal administration.

However, some progress has been made in major German cities: Appointments can be made online in 66 percent of public authorities, vehicle registration is possible digitally in 91 percent of major cities and various other services can also be completed online. There has also been an increase in the use of service portals, e-payment and chatbots - but there is still a lot to be done to drive forward the digitalization of administration.

Last year, Nuremberg led the field in administrative digitalization with 87.3 points, ahead of Heilbronn and Düsseldorf.

IT and communications

Broadband connections with a speed of at least 1,000 Mbit/s are available in around 68 percent of German households. By contrast, only 18 percent have fiber-optic connections. Even if it sometimes feels otherwise, the 5G network covers almost 80 percent of the nationwide area. The demands of mobile users are high - 98 percent pay attention to good network coverage and 91 percent value fast surfing.

In the major cities, 80 percent of households have a broadband connection with at least 1,000 Mbit/s, while fiber rollout is progressing only slowly here as well. 5G and the IoT network technology LoRaWAN are available in all major cities. More than a third (35 percent) of the cities surveyed use smart city dashboards to inform citizens about environmental and traffic data, and another 27 percent plan to introduce smart city dashboards.

Looking at IT and communications, Gelsenkirchen (88.1 points), Munich and Hamburg led the top 10 in 2022.

Energy and environment

Sustainability and energy conservation are becoming increasingly important. 80 percent of Germans have now changed their behavior when it comes to electricity and energy consumption. Intelligent devices that can be used to save electricity interest 62 percent of people, while 57 percent are interested in smart meters, digital, Internet-enabled measuring devices for heat or electricity. Electromobility is also becoming more popular, with 10 percent of Germans thinking about buying an electric car within the next two years. Most of them want to charge their electric car at publicly accessible charging stations.

In major cities, 64 percent are using adaptive streetlights that can reduce energy consumption. Smart poles, which serve as Wi-Fi access points or charging stations, are used in more than half of cities (52 percent). Another 28 percent of cities use streetlights with photovoltaic panels. Smart environmental sensors are used by 73 percent of cities. Electric vehicles account for 1.4 percent of registered vehicles in major cities, while charging stations have increased to nearly 10,000 since 2019. More all-electric buses (8 percent) than hybrid buses (6 percent) are in use in major cities, and overall, nearly all cities (95 percent) plan to purchase more low-emission buses.

In the area of energy and the environment, Paderborn topped the ranking of major German cities last year with 87.3 points. Ulm and Trier came in second and third with some distance (80.1 points, 79.8 points).

Mobility

The mobility turnaround is in full swing in Germany and has fundamentally changed our mobility behavior. The main reasons for this are the climate crisis, the 9-euro ticket, increased gasoline prices and also the fear of contracting the corona virus. Alternative mobility options are therefore becoming increasingly popular, especially sharing offers and on-demand services such as ride pooling (carpooling) and ride hailing (Uber, among others).

Smart traffic lights and digital payment options are available in many cities, as is WLAN in mass transit. Autonomous vehicles are increasingly used in public transport and car sharing with electric vehicles is also widespread throughout Germany. From the bus to the train to the rental bike or sharing car, this is possible with so-called multimodal apps. They are increasingly being used to link different mobility services in cities, and alternative vehicles such as cargo bikes or e-vehicles are also being tried out in cities to reduce delivery traffic in city centers.

Nuremberg led the Smart City Index 2022 in terms of mobility with 94.2 out of 100 points. Hamburg and Berlin and Munich followed with also more than 90 points (93.7, 92.2 and 91.4 points).

Society

The digitalization of cities should also promote the digital participation of all social groups. A large majority of citizens (87 percent) see digitalization as an opportunity, including 71 percent of those over 75. However, there is still a high need for support: 83 percent would like to see digital media and information skills promoted along the entire education chain. 71 percent call for barrier-free digital offerings, for example, through ease of use and explanations in plain language.

In the major cities, citizen participation is increasingly shifting to the digital space. Almost two-thirds of major cities have a citizen participation platform, and about the same number enable their citizens to follow council meetings live online. Most major cities have FabLabs or Maker Spaces where tech enthusiasts can create their own projects without having to purchase the equipment themselves.

Coworking spaces are almost everywhere. The transparency of cities in terms of data is also increasing, with a growing share of open data portals and geoportals. And local commerce is also becoming more digital, with an increasing number of major cities having a local online commerce platform.

Smart City leader Hamburg also ranked first in the Society section with 98.1 points. Dresden and Düsseldorf followed in second and third place.

In September, Bitkom will publish the Smart City Index 2023.

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