What opportunities and risks does digitalization hold for urban life?

Research questions

  • How can digitalization and artificial intelligence contribute to a successful transformation towards sustainable smart cities or smart regions?
  • What digital infrastructures are needed in cities and the local economy to apply digital innovations?
  • How can digitalization contribute to better healthcare in cities and rural areas?
  • What are the potentials and challenges of new digital mobility concepts like Shared Autonomous Mobility or 3D mobility?
  • What challenges need to be considered concerning data protection and data security?
  • What implications does digitalization have for the role and function of urban areas as places where people interact and get involved in civil society?
  • Digitalizing municipal administration services and citizen participation formats in a constructive way: What does this look like?  


Digitalization and the environment: Impacts of the digital transformation on the environment, urban development and climate protection

The short study resulting from the project “Impacts of the digital transformation on the environment, urban development and climate protection” aimed to identify, analyze and structure the fields of action offering the biggest opportunities and potentials for digitalization, for example, in terms of efficiency gains or climate targets, and where it is therefore worth developing further strategies and positions. In addition, the study aimed to suggest the main areas where the BMUB (the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety) should be involved in the context of the digital transformation, and what fundamental role it could play in digitalization in the future.

Territorial Responsible Research and Innovation and Smart Specialisation (TetRRIS)

The EU-funded TetRRIS project aims to promote responsible research and innovation (RRI) on the EU territorial level. First, the project will map and analyse territorial systems to understand the current role of RRI. Second, it will collaborate with stakeholders to create mechanisms and supporting elements to enhance RRI. Third, it will support the organisation of pilots to implement RRI. Fourth, it will help territorial actors to increase their knowledge and receive peer support from other regions. Eventually, the project will promote a dialogue between different levels of research and innovation governance on RRI.

A Gigabit network for Baden-Wuerttemberg. Status and perspectives of expanding the fiber optic network

Baden-Wuerttemberg is currently ranked poorly in eleventh place (of 13 federal states) for the availability of fiber optic connections (FTTH/B) in a nationwide comparison. Despite this, there are a number of successful fiber optic projects that have been launched by telecommunications and cable TV companies, as well as by rural districts, local authorities and municipal enterprises. This study analyzes selected fiber optic projects. The question of interest is to what extent the selected strategies as a whole can lead to widespread coverage of a gigabit network in Baden-Wuerttemberg in the medium term.  

Analyses of Saxony as an innovation location

The German state of Saxony has put in place an innovation strategy as the foundation of its regional innovation policy since 2013. This strategy is the master plan for innovation support and defines innovation policy's objectives and thematic priorities. At the same time, it serves to fulfil the ex-ante conditionality for the European Regional Development Fund, i.e. obtain authorization for the regional operational programme by the European Commission. The state government wants to create a strategic basis building on the existing innovation strategy that can be adapted to changing framework conditions. Against this background, a comprehensive, evidence-based study will be conducted of Saxony's innovation potentials and innovation-relevant framework conditions.

Regional Innovation Monitor 2015-2016 (RIM-Plus)

The overall objective of the RIM-Plus project is to contribute to the competitiveness of European regions by increasing the effectiveness of regional innovation policies and strategies, by continuing the efforts begun in the framework of the Regional Innovation Monitor from 2009-2012. As in the previous RIM project, its purpose and specific contribution is to enhance the scope and quality of policy assessment by providing policy-makers, other innovation actors and researchers with the analytical framework and tools to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of regional policies and regional innovation systems. To this end, the inventory of innovation strategies at regional level in Europe that was established in the course of the first Regional Innovation Monitor project, will be maintained, regularly updated in a more proactive manner than before made available to actors involved in developing regional innovation policy measures. Moreover, the so far established channels of communication (workshops, topical publications and newsfeeds) will be extended and further developed.

Accompanying research project to the BMBF's contest “Health regions of the future”

The aim of the accompanying research project is to scientifically monitor and offer continuous support to the five “Health regions of the future” funded by the BMBF and other selected non-funded regions. In addition, generalizable insights are to be gained that are relevant at supra-regional level, meaning they will benefit other regions, politics and the health sector in general.  

Study evaluating innovations in the healthcare sector

The aim of the already completed study was to develop an indicator-supported evaluation tool, which can be used to assess how much individual innovations or measures taken by actors in the healthcare sector contribute to achieving twelve overarching goals and thus to a positive overall development of the healthcare system. The result was the evaluation tool ZEIG, which is available online at www.zeig-analyse.de.  

Forum Privacy – Research for a self-determined life in the digital world

Based on technical, legal, economic and social science approaches, the research consortium Forum Privacy works on an interdisciplinary-based understanding of the role of privacy in the digital present. Concepts are developed for (re)defining and guaranteeing informational self-determination and privacy in the digital world.  

Orientation towards the common good in the digital age: Transformation narratives between planetary boundaries and artificial intelligence

The project analyzes and develops ethical concepts and narratives for societal change processes (transformations). It explicitly considers digital technologies with a potential to fundamentally change current relationships between humans, technology and the environment (disruptive digital technologies), especially artificial intelligence.


Method portfolio

  • Technology assessments
  • Innovation evaluations
  • Regional-specific innovation indicators
  • Analyzing ethical, social and economic aspects
  • Risk assessments
  • Empirical social research
  • Participation processes
  • Roadmapping
  • Scenario analyses
  • Accompanying and evaluating model projects