Photo credits: Fraunhofer IESE

On 26/27 October 2021, the German DESIRA Living Lab Rhineland-Palatinate held an online workshop to carry out its Scenario Planning. The purpose is to increase the level of digital services and communication possibilities across application domains in rural areas, with the focus being on the digital transformation in local administrations.

The meeting was attended by the local administration. Other representatives, for example of local welfare associations, were also present.

The scenario question that was worked on was: “What will digital life (together) look like in Betzdorf-Gebhardshain in 2031?

The main drivers of change identified were Demographic Structure & Digital Acceptance, Digital Services & Data Use, Economic Structure & Work Form, Actions regarding Extreme Weather, Responsibilities of Local Administration, Implementation of the Online Access Act, and Migration.

A digitalised administration would offer the possibility to provide more services to keep the region attractive. The participants concluded that although digital services in local administrations will be mandatory by 2023 due to the Online Access Act, they will not be mature enough to work completely. Basically, the acceptance of digital administration must be promoted among the population in Germany. Thus, there is a need to communicate in a way that all citizens are involved so they will accept a digitalised administration. This means that platforms for exchange must be created and more investment in political education is needed. However, citizens must also get involved themselves. Finally, to make rural areas more attractive, policymakers should create incentives to enable home office or remote work.