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Solingen on the way to becoming a smart city

A landscape with lots of trees, a river in the centre and a bridge made of digital dots spanned across it.

Building digital bridges in the Smart City Solingen. Photo: Solingen Digital

Solingen developed a digitalization strategy back in 2018 in order to be able to tackle the issues and challenges of the future with the help of digitalization. When the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Homeland launched the "Smart Cities Model Projects" funding program, the city did not hesitate for long - the digital strategy was finally ready and could be submitted to the ministry. Solingen thus became one of the first cities in Germany to be supported in its digital transformation by the funding program since 2019. Around 9 million euros will flow from the federal government to the city in North Rhine-Westphalia.

From funding to implementation

The funding program will now come to an end in September. Andreas Freund, project manager at Solingen Digital, says that the city has created a solid basis for the smart city with the help of the funding program. This includes the Open SmartCity Ecosystem with an urban data platform (UPD), the Open SmartCity HUB, to which the Open SmartCity App, the Open SmartCity Screens and the Open SmartCity Web are connected.

The Open SmartCity HUB briefly explained:

As an urban data platform, the Open SmartCity Hub enables the provision of data from various sources. This data is made available via the "Mensch, Solingen!" app and information displays in public spaces. Together with other municipalities, Solingen has initiated the Open SmartCity app development partnership.

"The app and its development partnership in particular show how promotional project measures can be stabilized and equipped for the future," says Freund.

Solingen has also focused on lighting management in recent months. The city's technical operations rely on smart lighting, which has also been connected to the Open SmartCity HUB. Over 100 sensors also supply data on the weather, road conditions, water and air quality to the urban data platform.

Solingen has initiated a total of 16 measures as part of the funding program to make the city smarter - most of them are currently being implemented or in the pilot phase. Only four projects, including smart bollards on roads and dynamic route planning for emptying waste bins and organic waste bins, are not being pursued further.

Paper forms are a thing of the past - Solingen's smart town hall

The administration of the city of Solingen is also becoming more and more digital - at, citizens can find information, applications and forms, register their car online, apply for parental allowance digitally or extend a building permit, for example. The trip to the office and the printed and hand-signed form are now a thing of the past.

People in Solingen can do all of this not only via their computer at home, but also directly via their smartphone - the smart town hall is also integrated into the Solingen app. For example, mobile phones can be used to set reminders for waste collection, report defects in the city or search for job advertisements and events.

Here you can find an overview of all Smart City Solingen projects.

Don't just talk, do it

These examples show - in Solingen, we don't talk for long, we get down to work and do it. This is also confirmed by project manager Andreas Freund: "True to the motto #simplemaking, we take an iterative approach with prototypes. This means that we first create a prototype for a measure and then look at what is good, what is bad and what is missing. This allows us to quickly achieve the first visible results and we don't have to spend a long time discussing greenfield sites but can instead continue to develop the prototype in concrete terms."

But even if cities are not as busy as Solingen, the digital transformation can succeed there, says Freund: "As the market for smart city solutions has grown considerably in the meantime, you should first get a good overview, for example at SCCON. Then you can pick out the use cases that are most pressing in your own municipality and find lots of helpful offers in the Smart City Community."

The city of Solingen has been part of the Smart Country Convention from the very beginning - the last two times as an exhibitor. "SCCON is the event to attend if you're interested in digitalization and smart cities in Germany. It is the perfect setting to present your own solutions and at the same time discover solutions from other municipalities and service providers and exchange ideas."

When the Smart Country Convention starts on 15 October, Solingen's funding phase will have ended in just a few weeks. Will the city then be a smart city?

"Solingen is a smart city," says Freund. "But the topic will never be completely finished, there will always be another technical development, an idea for a new use case that needs to be implemented in order to improve life in Solingen." - because that is the basic idea behind Smart City Solingen and many other smart cities - that life in the city or municipality remains livable and lovable.

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