In 2019, the city of Ulm was selected as one of 13 German "Smart Cities Model Projects" by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community (BMI). The aim was to develop integrated, cross-sector strategies for future urban life, conduct field-testing in different neighbourhoods and identify the technical, economic, institutional and socio-cultural challenges that arise during the transformation process to a smart city. Against this background, the Wuppertal Institute provided scientific support to the city of Ulm within the BMI Model City "Smart Cities made in Germany".
In this context, the researchers presented the state of research of different assessment concepts and key performance indicators (KPIs) for smart cities, which were discussed in particular within the thematic focus areas of sustainability and circular economy. In addition, the fields of action "climate and environment", "energy", and "supply /disposal and resource protection" determined by the city of Ulm were elaborated by the Wuppertal Institute and thereafter evaluated with regard to their central challenges and objectives for Ulm's smart city initiative. Furthermore, various workshops with the relevant municipal stakeholders from the city of Ulm were conducted. Finally, the researchers assessed a pre-selection of ten submitted project approaches, which, after thorough examination by the city of Ulm, should be implemented in the future. The Wuppertal Institute carried out the sustainability check of the selected project approaches and reviewed them on the basis of various criteria and with regard to possible ecological mitigation measures. The Wuppertal Institute followed a transformative research approach, which attributes a central role to urban space as a starting point for real-world interventions and innovation processes.