How can public authorities and the people living in towns and villages benefit from digitization? What can they do now to get ready for the future? From an app for switching on street lighting to the creation of a rural "co-village," numerous digital pioneers from local government and community organizations presented effective ideas on September 10, 2018 in Kiel at an event organized by the Smart Country project and the Heinrich Böll Foundation.
Digital life in rural settings is attracting attention. The media are reporting on networked villages. Pilot projects such as Digital Dörfer (Digital Villages) are generating interest nationwide. Events on digitization in rural areas are connecting the driving forces in communities.
Examples of effective digital projects already exist in some rural areas. They deserve attention because they encourage others to emulate them. Not every small village is in a position or willing to launch a large-scale, sophisticated digitization strategy. That's why good examples are so important: They show the advantages of low-threshold digital solutions. They encourage imitation and can even inspire new ideas.
Kiel conference highlights good practices
During Kiel's "Digital Week," we organized the conference Digitales Landleben (Digital Rural Life) together with the Heinrich Böll Foundation Schleswig-Holstein. Held on September 10, 2018, the conference brought together a number of actors who presented good practices from digital projects in rural communities.
The range of projects presented was wide. They varied from "small" solutions such as the app Knoop for switching on street lighting in Löwenstedt in Schleswig-Holstein to "large" solutions such as the construction of a complete village, the KoDorf, which was presented by its initiator, Frederik Fischer from Berlin. KoDorf wants to merge the concepts of coworking and coliving. In a newly built village, urban lifestyle and mentality are to come together with rural idyll.
A presentation on the Smart Country Side project from the towns of Lippe and Höxter was also given at the event. The three-year project is partnering with members of the community to develop digital solutions in 16 villages that will improve the quality of local life. Our blog features a series with more information on the project.
In Kiel, Christoph Meineke, the mayor of the town of Wennigsen in Lower Saxony, described his experiences with digital projects in his community. Despite some resistance, an online citizen-participation process was carried out in the town, for which it was honored in 2012. Six years and several digital projects later, Meineke had a number of recommendations for other communities.
A total of 11 speakers presented examples of successful digital projects in rural communities. After the presentations, participants had the opportunity to talk to the speakers and ask questions. The conference received considerable attention and positive feedback from the participants. More information about the event can be found in our Smart Country Blog.