Darmstadt is the most digital city in Hesse.
This is not new, but has now been confirmed by two data collections.
Both the Haselhorst management consultancy and the Bitcon business association see Darmstadt ahead of other Hessian cities when compared.
However, a much smaller community has again secured one of the top spots: Bad Nauheim.
The fact that a city with just under 33,000 inhabitants outperforms the major metropolises, appears not only ahead of Frankfurt but also ahead of Berlin in the ranking of management consultants, at least arouses curiosity.
What are the Wetterauer doing right?
In 2018, they sat down to develop a strategy for digitization, says Matthias Wieliki, Head of Central Services and Public Relations.
Not only the administration should act "smarter", but also the public utilities and the housing association.
One of the projects initiated was the so-called LoRaWan.
The public utilities developed the low-frequency network for their own use in order to determine meter readings.
"We use LoRaWan, among other things, to determine traffic measurement data," says Wieliki.
Money from the “Strong Homeland Hessen” program
This should benefit the people of Bad Nauheim in times of rapidly increasing energy costs.
Sensors are currently being installed in city properties to better manage consumption there.
So if a shower had been running there for hours, the sensors would react and pass on the data.
The city recently received a further boost in the direction of the smart city with a funding decision.
Bad Nauheim is funded with almost one million euros from the "Strong Homeland Hesse" program.
The city contributes ten percent of this itself.
With the money, the city centers in particular are to become more digital.
The plans are implemented with the help of a data platform and many sensors that are used for traffic, environment and climate as well as security, order and cleanliness.
In concrete terms, visitor flows could be measured to see how often the garbage cans in the parks have to be emptied.
With the help of sensors that measure soil moisture, the tours of the irrigation vehicles could also be planned more sensibly.
Additional sensors will provide data on air quality in the future.
Not an unimportant measurement for a health resort.
But security in the city center will soon also be supported with the help of sensors.
"We have a few corners of the city that are a little off the beaten track and where people don't feel comfortable in the dark," says Wieliki.
Said sensors, which react to volume, will in future alert the security police in the event of noise, who can inform the police if necessary.
They should also be used in front of rescue entrances to clinics or schools.
Since there is usually no parking there, a signal is always sent when a car is parked there.
Some of these detectors have already been installed, others will follow in October.
Time is also pressing because the funding notice stipulates that the plans will be implemented within two years.
So the people of Bad Nauheim don't have much time.
"For us, this is just the beginning"
The administration receives the data from the sensors, which are or were hardly visible in the city, either via LoRaWan or the mobile network.
There they are also analyzed with the help of algorithms, so that in the future work can be even more efficient, faster and more resource-saving, according to the city's website.
Incidentally, the people of Bad Nauheim should also be able to see the collected data that the city works with.
Wieliki knows: "For us, this is just the beginning." Development continues at a rapid pace.
But the people of Bad Nauheim are already welcome guests at events where they themselves report on their journey towards becoming a “smart city”.