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Smart City Index - Hamburg remains top!

Smart City Hamburg

The Smart City Index 2021 is here and shows that digitization is on the rise. It is not a state of affairs but an ongoing process that is being driven forward in all major cities in Germany. And the Corona pandemic in particular has shown that cities that are digitally well positioned come through the crisis better.

Hamburg at the forefront

The Hanseatic city of Hamburg is leading the way - for the third time in a row, the city has managed to top the Smart City Index, making it the smartest city in Germany. This is evident in the areas of IT and communications, energy and the environment, and society and mobility, among others. Hamburg leads the Smart City ranking in all of these key areas. Out of a possible 100 points, the city scored a total of 88. Cologne follows in second place with 79.3 points, and Karlsruhe has secured third place with 73.2 points. Munich had to vacate the podium - the city slipped from its former 2nd place to 4th. This shows - even if a city is doing a lot in terms of digitization, other cities do not remain idle and continue to develop. "A good ranking is no guarantee for a good performance in the coming year," says Bitkom President Achim Berg.

11,000 data points for more than 80 cities

Bitkom Research collected, reviewed and analyzed around 11,000 data points from the 81 major German cities with at least 100,000 inhabitants:ins for the Smart City Index. The data was broken down into the five major areas of administration, IT and communication, energy and environment, mobility and society.

One thing to start with - larger cities that have a university performed better on average in the Smart City Index than smaller cities or those without a university.

Focus on administration

This saying no longer does justice to the administrations of Germany's major cities - in 9 out of 10 of the major cities surveyed, the authorities work with digital files. In one in five, this is even done across all authorities. In more than half of the cities, citizens can also make an appointment online. Registering a car online is possible in 87 percent of cities, and registering children for daycare is possible in 86 percent of the cities surveyed.

Four out of ten cities have also set up a digital citizens' portal where citizens can register and deal with their concerns directly online.

Almost all of the 81 major cities have a deficiency reporting system. Citizens can report defects online, for example, if a street lamp is defective, if a street has more potholes than asphalt, or if dog owners do not clean up the mess left behind by their four-legged friends.

Focus on IT and communications

In terms of fiber-optic expansion, there is still plenty of room for improvement in 2021. The Smart City Index 2021 shows that only 15 percent of households are connected to the fiber optic network. By contrast, 94 percent of the major cities surveyed have 5G.

Focus on energy and the environment

More than half of the major German cities evaluated for the Smart City Index will be using smart street lighting in 2021. This means the lights respond to movement and only come on when they are really needed. More than a third of the cities are also testing intelligent trash cans. They measure their fill level independently and only need to be emptied when they are really full. Just under a third of the cities are also testing this system for used glass and used clothing containers.

And to keep track of all these points, 21 percent of German cities use smart city dashboards. These provide citizens with an overview of air quality or the current traffic situation. Another 21 percent of the cities surveyed want to introduce such a platform.

focus on mobility

The number of charging stations for e-cars has doubled in the past two years. While in 2019 there were still around 3,000 - in 2021 there were already over 6,000.

Local transport, on the other hand, still relies on traditional drives for the most part. Only 4.4 percent of buses in the major German cities surveyed had an electric drive. 9 out of 10 cities want to purchase low-emission buses in the future. Free WLAN on buses and streetcars is already available in 60 percent of major cities.

Anyone looking for a parking space in the city usually needs strong nerves - small change, on the other hand, is often no longer necessary. The Smart City Index 2021 shows that in 95 percent of the cities evaluated, parking tickets can be purchased by cell phone. In addition, 40 percent are testing smart parking. Sensors detect available parking spaces, and drivers are guided there directly via an app.

More than three-quarters of the cities surveyed offer bikesharing for those who prefer to cycle to work, shopping or school - 77 percent of them. In more than a third of the cities, e-bikes can even be rented.

Opinions differ on the subject of e-scooters - for some, a good alternative for getting through dense city traffic quickly - for others, just more blocking of sidewalks and bike lanes. Nevertheless, e-scooters have already spread in 8 out of 10 cities. In 2020, it was still about half of all cities.

Society thematic focus

Almost half of all cities surveyed in the Smart City Index 2021 have a digital participation platform that citizens can use to get involved in the development of their city. In 47 percent of the cities, citizens can also follow council meetings live online.

Home office has become the standard for many during the pandemic. But so that they don't necessarily need their own office, almost all the cities evaluated for the Smart City Index have co-working spaces. In 2021, there were an average of eight drop-in centers per city where people from different companies could work together.

And local merchants also received special support from some cities during the pandemic - for example, 4 out of 10 major cities set up special online retail platforms where customers could buy goods from local businesses and have them delivered to their homes. In 2020, this option was available in 20 percent of cities.

Conclusion Smart City Index 2021

When it comes to digitization, Germany's major cities are making varying degrees of progress - Hamburg, Cologne and Koblenz are clear pioneers and role models in digital development. Bremerhaven, Bergisch Gladbach and Salzgitter, on the other hand, tend to bring up the rear.

There is no difference in the east-west comparison. Although the cities in eastern Germany have a weaker digital infrastructure on average, they compensate for this in the overall ranking with better results in social activities.

And the Smart City Index 2021 also shows that the financial situation of municipalities is not the only decisive factor for the digital development of a city. Rather, it is political will and commitment. "Success factors for a smart city are a committed city hall, a digital strategy, clear structures, a well-established local network and the participation of the population," says Achim Berg, President of Bitkom.

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