Science City Darmstadt focuses on Smart Water – a project for water, integrated urban development and climate resilience.

Darmstadt’s water management is getting smart. Under the project title “Smart Water”, a major collaboration project involving many Darmstadt stakeholders from science, business and interest groups was launched this week. Darmstadt’s water management system is becoming smart. This week, a major collaboration project was launched, called Smart Water, with many Darmstadt stakeholders from academia, business and interest groups. They are now developing ideas on how Darmstadt’s water capacity can be managed more intelligently than ever before. By offering a wide range of opportunities to participate, Darmstadt residents will also be encouraged to develop ideas for their city’s smart water.

‘Smart Water Darmstadt is a new measure for a climate-resilient city,’ explained Darmstadt’s Lord Mayor Jochen Partsch at the online kick-off event: ‘We currently have a new record in Hesse with almost 200 hours of sunshine in March and, at the same time, the very worrying negative value of just seven litres of rainwater per square metre. Water is an essential basis of existence – and it is disappearing more and more. So over the next five years, we will be rethinking our water management and investing €14.7 million in funding raised from the “Smart Cities made in Germany” programme into one of the most important climate issues of our time: water. To this end, we are combining our digital and climate target strategies more strongly than ever before – with the aim of generating resilience.’

The issue is complex. After all, Lord Mayor Partsch went on to say, it is not a matter of finding that there is no rain. Rather, it is a matter of designing and implementing specific measures. How can we better manage this dwindling resource? Where is there still untapped potential for water extraction? Three focus groups were presented for this purpose. Their task is to formulate water-related challenges and devise strategies for overcoming them. Their core tool for this is digital and other innovative technologies. These technologies can be used to work on multidimensional issues and simulate solution scenarios in order to determine, for example, what needs to change during sustained dry periods in the future. In recent years, Smart City Darmstadt and other city management companies have been able to gain experience with digital concepts in order to manage public services more intelligently; for instance, waste, public transport and the energy supply of street lights. Together with the Office for Economic Affairs and Urban Development, Smart City Darmstadt and Heag Holding are therefore responsible for this project.

‘Climate change has long since arrived in Darmstadt and the state authorities are forecasting even longer periods of drought, increased heat and less precipitation,’ explained Environmental Officer Michael Kolmer. ‘We need clever solutions to become more climate-resilient in what is already an acute situation. Our starting position for this is good. Thanks to our integrated climate protection concept, we have made climate protection our top priority and can quickly tackle the issue of smart water.’

How can rainwater be better used? Can wells and cisterns be revived or modernised? Is it possible to reduce the water consumption of every household and at the same time water public green spaces intelligently so that flora and fauna can grow, thrive and cool despite periods of drought? How can cooling effects be generated with reflective and heated facades in urban centres? Is it possible to divert exactly that energy? And how can corrosion and other effects in the sewer system be prevented during heavy rain events if it has previously been dry for a long time? Can water masses from hail and heavy rain be stored? These and many other questions will be discussed by the focus groups in workshops until autumn this year. The groups bring together representatives with relevant prior knowledge from science, business, city administration and management, as well as civil stakeholders. Head of Digitalisation and Education in Darmstadt, Holger Klötzner, will also be there: ‘Digitalisation helps us to control technically complex processes more intelligently. In the coming months, we hope to receive a lot of impetus from the focus groups and residents of Darmstadt for the intelligent use of water in our city. We will then implement many of the citizen- and focus-group approaches from 2023 onwards.’


Smart Water Darmstadt – smart city projects for integrated urban development and climate resilience is being implemented in the context of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) funding line ‘Smart Cities Model Projects’ and ‘Smart Cities made in Germany’. The goal is to build climate-resilient structures in Darmstadt with the help of digital and smart applications. Against the backdrop of increasing droughts and heavy rain events, the focus is on the topic of ‘water in the city’. The project aims to be holistic, collaborative and socially acceptable. It thereby supports Darmstadt’s integrated urban development and network city character.

Smart City Darmstadt remains at the top of the Smart City ranking published today by Bitkom e.V. Darmstadt has placed fifth among the smartest cities in Germany. In doing so, it continues along its successful course with a comprehensive strategy for digitalisation.

Darmstadt’s Lord Mayor Jochen Partsch: ‘Our approach is to use digitalisation to help us solve the key future problems of urban spaces such as the mobility revolution, climate neutrality and participation in the interests of the people of our city. The current ranking values Darmstadt’s approach to understanding the digitalisation process comprehensively and sustainably and in a participatory and ethically sound way.’

Der Smart City Index zeichnet ein umfassendes und detailliertes Bild des Digitalisierungsstandes deutscher Städte. In den fünf Hauptkategorien Verwaltung, Energie und Umwelt, IT und Kommunikation, Mobilität sowie Gesellschaft wurden 133 Vergleichsparameter für die Bewertung herangezogen. Die Digitalstadt Darmstadt forciert Digitalisierungsprojekte in insgesamt 14 Bereichen der kommunalen Daseinsvorsorge und hat somit ein umfassendes Portfolio, das sogar weit über die Kategorien des Index hinausgeht. Die Veränderungen im Ranking gegenüber dem letzten Jahr zeigen die enorme Dynamik in dem Thema Digitalisierung in der Daseinsvorsorge, lässt der Bitkom verlauten. „Die erneut sehr gute Platzierung im Ranking ist für uns Lob, aber auch Ansporn zugleich, unseren Weg in der Digitalisierung konsequent weiterzuverfolgen“, resümiert Jochen Partsch.

Background #SmartCityIndex Bitkom

Bitkom e.V. has been compiling the SmartCityIndex for three years. This ranking on the digitalisation of cities and regions in Germany will be presented at the Smart Country Convention in Berlin on 27 October 2021.

Further information:

‘Data and information are an essential resource of the information society. As a result, there is a growing desire among business, academia and civil society to have more and easier access to public administration data. Many specialist departments of Science City Darmstadt already make data and information available to the public. The provision of open data is an appropriate means to better respond to the growing demand for data and information, to promote transparency and to stimulate knowledge and innovation processes.’

The adopted open-data strategy creates a basis for the systematic provision of administrative data for Science City Darmstadt. The adopted open-data strategy creates a basis for the systematic provision of administrative data for Science City Darmstadt. It is guided by best practices in order to participate in the experiences of other municipalities. The guiding principle is to understand the handling and provision of open data as a learning system in which processes are continuously monitored and improved. The available resources must be sufficient for sustainable operations, which requires pragmatic thinking and actions. For this reason, the aim is not to provide as much data as possible, but rather to concentrate on important databases for users and to permanently keep them up to date.

The open data of the city of Darmstadt should be made available to its users in a machine-readable and easily accessible manner and be permanent and free of charge. Personal data or data subject to confidentiality cannot be made available as open data. The open data of the city of Darmstadt is all made available to its users centrally via the open-data platform of the City of Science. A centralised data offering promotes the traceability of data and helps to secure and comply with uniform standards for data provision. In future, the open-data platform will be linked to the recently launched data platform of Digitalstadt Darmstadt GmbH and will be an important data provider for applications placed there.

The open-data strategy was developed by the Statistics and Urban Research departments in cooperation with the IT department of Science City Darmstadt and with the support of Digitalstadt GmbH. Accordingly, the Statistics and Urban Research departments will in future be responsible for the open administrative data, while the IT department will be responsible for the technical aspects of the open-data platform.

Once a municipal ‘Open Data’ officer has been appointed, the strategy will be implemented step by step in cooperation with the individual departments of the city administration. An ‘Open Data’ working group from the central departments for the topic will also meet under their leadership in order to strategically and organisationally support the process around the provision of open data.

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