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Wuppertal – on the way to becoming a smart city

Wuppertal at night

“Our world is constantly changing and witnessing new trends. These developments are redefining the demands being placed on cities, and naturally that also applies to Wuppertal“, says Meta Koch of the city’s Department of IT and Digitalisation. “That is why securing a liveable, sustainable environment and social justice in the long term is an important future task for both Wuppertal and cities around the world.“ And that is what the Smart City project is all about. Together with local actors from society, business, administrations, science and politics, Wuppertal wants to set about this transformation, says Koch.

Realising the digital city together

Until 2020, the various areas of IT and digitalisation strategy were processed separately. Since last year, Wuppertal has combined these measures under the roof of the Department of IT and Digitalisation. That is also where, under the heading digiTal 2026, the IT and digitalisation strategy was decided upon. Last year, the Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building declared Wuppertal a model smart city. “In addition to the existing ideas and commitment to shaping a city of the future we can now get projects under way to make it a reality“, says Koch.

Specifically, the city is working on six spheres of activity aimed at improving the quality of life and making better use of resources:

• Smart administration,

• Smart mobility,

• Smart citizens,

• Smart environmental protection,

• Smart living,

• Smart business

From theory to practice

For example, the first so-called Quick Win project aims to be functioning by the end of the year – a virtual walk and journey in time around the city for both locals and tourists.

And even if many smart city projects are coming to fruition mainly online, there is still a demand for places to meet – for events, workshops and information, says Koch. “That is why, with the Smart City Lab, we are creating a physical space where that is possible. We want to make the technologies for urban development, the potential of data and digital solutions easily understandable and at the same time an experience. Prototypes are being jointly developed in creative workshops.”

Furthermore, Wuppertal already has a platform where citizens can become involved (TalBeteiligung) as well as its own app (Bliggit). That way, citizens can contribute ideas and suggestions anytime and anywhere and find out more about the city. The plan is to expand the platform in the future to offer free public access to important data. That will increase transparency, acceptance and participation in the project, of that Koch is convinced.

Promoting the smart city

In order to reach as many people as possible with the project and heighten their interest in smart city topics, in addition to the city app Bliggit, Wuppertal is making use of conventional media such as newspaper articles, flyers, posters and invitations by post. “The entire project is based on making Wuppertal a smart city for its citizens and together with them“, says Koch. That is why several local workshops have been set up in which people of all ages can take part. The threshold for participation is deliberately low to ensure everybody can take part and contribute ideas.

Starting next year, various smart city projects aim to be up and running in Wuppertal. However, that will not be the end of the project, says Koch. “Trends, needs and events are in constant flux. For Wuppertal as a city of the future, the main goal will be to react accordingly and not stand still.“

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