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The centre of Dortmund is a blend of traditional German buildings and new architecture

Dortmund started its Smart City initiative early and is now reaping the rewards

Dortmund started its Smart City initiative early and is now reaping the rewards

The Smart City Alliance has been quietly building functional tools for both citizens and authorities since 2016

Dortmund, in Germany, kick-started its Smart City initiative back in 2016. While not all the projects under this umbrella have reached their final stages, the city is already reaping the rewards. ‘Allianz Smart City’ (Smart City Alliance), as the administration dubbed it, has focused on creating an ecosystem of public and private collaboration to deliver on digitalisation, sustainable mobility and boosting the local economy.

Now in 2022, the North-Western German city has come out ahead in many regards, with the administration already adopting full electric mobility and fostering a holistic and supportive start-up and SME (Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises) infrastructure, from taking projects from local universities to private investors.

In late 2021, Dortmund was named the European Capital of Innovation, beating out cities that could be considered to have more international clout like Dublin. Furthermore, the EU Commission named it among the first 100 cities to receive support in becoming climate-neutral cities by 2030.

Delivering on promises for the north side of Dortmund

The Smart City Alliance was conceived as a decade-long initiative, part of Nordwärts, a project to boost the living standards on the north side of the city. In the words of Michaela Bonan, then head of Nordwärts, these initiatives aim to improve the image of north Dortmund and the rest of the city.

It also fitted perfectly as a key component of the city’s energy transition master plan. The energy transition master plan, in its own right, was adopted by the city council in 2014 and is focused on shifting energy and fuel away from fossil fuels and towards renewables and electric vehicles.

Some of the key initiatives that the city has already achieved through the Smart City Alliance include smart street lights in the so-called ‘Golden Mile’ project. The street lights were installed on a mile of road and were used to collect traffic, pedestrian and environmental data.

Another project of the alliance is the intelligent parking app, that helps people find quicker parking spaces. This project was launched in 2017 and has become an integral part of city life.

Most of the Smart City Alliance initiatives were implemented between 2016 and 2019 and they delivered a whole host of benefits to the city, including fast charging stations, digital tailor-made solutions for the elderly, zero-emissions policies for the centre of the city, robotics and more.

But, because Dortmund authorities started this development so early, now they have a chance to build on the progress of the last decade and take advantage of the digital tools at their disposal.

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