Digitalization of municipal services

In the “AKTIV-kommunal” collaborative research project, Fraunhofer IAO and other project partners are developing concepts and instruments to support organizational change and innovation processes in the municipal service sector.

What challenges does this involve?

The onward march of digitalization presents providers of municipal services with the challenge of adapting their traditional business structures to the needs of the future. The changes this entails not only concern their business models and product portfolio but also have an impact on the employees of public utilities and other municipal departments, who perform essential functions in assuring the stability and security of urban service infrastructures. This calls for solutions adapted to the digital working environment, capable of improving efficiency and generating added value for companies and their employees, and for society at large.

What is the aim of this project?

The aim of this project is to develop approaches, methods and instruments for the implementation of digital transformation and innovation processes in the context of municipal services and to conduct trials to evaluate their efficiency. The resulting solutions will enable employees and managers of public utilities and semi-public enterprises to successfully digitalize the processes they use to run their operations and deliver services to the community.

How will the results be implemented?

In the work with project partner Stadtwerke Konstanz GmbH, priority has been given to examining the digitalization potential of internal service processes which – wherever possible – will be digitalized and partially automated in the further course of the project. As well as studying the technical feasibility of such changes, consideration will also be given to their effect on work organization. Fraunhofer IAO and Stadtwerke Konstanz are developing a procedural model to help identify process types and recognize problems and challenges associated with the digitalization of these processes at an early stage. This will enable public utilities to make the right decisions when implementing internal digitalization projects.

The work with project partner badenova AG focuses on customer-related service processes. Fraunhofer IAO and badenova are developing a target scenario for technical services in 2025. What kind of services will be offered in the future, what are the dominant processes in technical services, what IT tools do they require, and what skills must employees have or acquire? This target scenario will serve as the basis for defining requirements for IT interfaces, the selection of IT hardware and software, and the design of work processes, as well as for developing work models and structured training programs for application in the here and now.

The results of these two subprojects will be integrated into an application-oriented toolbox designed to support municipal organizations with the digitalization of their service processes.

Who are the project partners?

Under the leadership of the University of Duisburg-Essen, Fraunhofer IAO and INPUT Consulting gGmbH, representing the scientific community, and badenova AG, Stadtwerke Konstanz and Stadtwerke Heidelberg, representing the user community, are developing solutions for the digitalization of work processes tailored to the needs of municipal services. The inclusion of employee and employer organizations, namely the trade union ver.di and the German Association of Local Utilities (VKU), additionally ensures that the “AKTIV-kommunal” collaborative research project will serve as a point of reference for all public-sector innovations. A steering committee has been appointed to supervise project activities throughout the duration of the project.