In 2016, Metropolitan Solutions in Berlin asked: How do cities get smart? We shifted the perspective a little and instead asked how a bridge towards a Smart Country can be built. Intelligent technology and networks are key to ensuring citizen participation and equal living circumstances in both cities and rural areas. We conducted a workshop to kick off the discussion.
Digitalization as the Main Thread
Specialists from across the globe discussed the digitalization of cities. Three hundred and forty two international speakers contributed insights in 26 conferences on energy, infrastructure, mobility, resource conservation, and the planning of public spaces. The one topic on everyone’s agenda: the digitalization of cities and their infrastructures. A predominant focus of all discussions at the Metropolitan solutions 2016 was exactly that.
Challenges of the 21st Century
Smart Country addresses the challenges of the 21st Century. Intelligent technology and networks will mean participation for all citizens, ensuring equal living conditions in both cities and rural areas.
It is already clear that this will not be resolved in equal measure throughout Germany. The German constitution for equal living circumstances is under question. Constitutional principles are under increased scrutiny. How can the digital divide be bridged? A look into economics and work, health and care, digital infrastructure and demographic change points to what needs to be addressed and where digital opportunities lie.
Comprehensive Viewpoints at the Podium
SmartCountry podium speakers included: Kristina Omri, Economic and Trade Diplomat at the Estonian Embassy in Berlin; Professor Helge Ritter, Coordinator at CITEC at the University of Bielefeld; Dr. Stephan Albers, Managing Director of BREKO, Bundesverband der Breitbandkommunikation (Federal Association of Broadband Communication) and Carsten Große Starmann, Demographics Expert, Wegweiser Kommune. Anke Knopp moderated the event.
Unfortunately, there was no livestream. We have therefore created a blog post that covers all content. You can find and read this post at Wegweiser Kommune using the link.
Fiber-Optic Is Location Factor Number One
We need digital pioneers to drive the expansion of fiber-optic networks in municipalities and regions. Carsten Große Starmann (seen on the left) emphasizes that Germany has taken a wrong turn—the Deutsche Telekom still employs an outdated method with their copper cables. The material’s longevity is finite and the technology is simply not future-oriented. Grosse Starmann says that it’s up to creative municipalities and regional expansion projects, as seen in the example of Senden in the Munsterland region, to create sustainable digital futures.
Dr. Stephan Albers (as seen on the right) sees development potential primarily driven by the young and the old as these demographics gain the most value from fiber-optic connectivity. The decision-makers, however, who make up the core, remain decidedly undecided. It’s a problem, and one that requires change.
Estonia—Where Digital Is the Norm!
Kristina Omri (seen on the right) explains that for Estonia, digital is the norm: digital services are part of daily life in Estonia. Electronic ID cards ensure easier access to important information and state-run services. Health and healthcare, and recovery health management are organized digitally. It’s quite normal to be given a digital prescription. Estonia virtually operates with no paper.
Robot Home Help
Professor Helge Ritter (second on the left) offers insights into CITEC’s work. How can robots assist people getting older in their own homes, so as to master autonomous living? Flobi, Meka and Billi illustrate ways to make it possible. They are available as either a home help, an avatar or as a robot. They can cook or even communicate when people leave home, if for example, the person leaving has forgotten their keys. The avatar will remind you to remember your keys. The presence of the robots will wholly affect everyday life.