Digitalization of Rural Areas

Smart Rural Areas

Digitalization offers many new opportunities to make life in rural areas fit for the future. We at Fraunhofer IESE try to exploit the potential in rural areas with innovative solutions and concepts for the future. We accomplish this with our smart software-based solutions.

The “Digital Villages” project is one of our flagship projects, where we have worked with model municipalities in Rhineland-Palatinate to shape digitalization at the regional level. This gave rise to the idea of a platform to promote digitalization in rural areas. This platform with concrete solutions can already be used today throughout Germany.

In the meantime, this and many other projects do not only address digitalization of rural areas, but also the topic of Smart Cities. At Fraunhofer IESE, we are mainly working on the design and development of digital ecosystems in the context of smart cities and urban districts. 

Smart Rural Areas at a Glance

Research program manager Steffen Hess presents the program “Smart Rural Areas”

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In the portrait of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the research program “Smart Rural Areas” for the digitalization of rural areas was presented. In the video, the developments to date of digital services in the areas of mobility, work, local supply, public administration, and communication are shown.

Our Projects for Rural Areas


Digital Villages (“Digitale Dörfer“)

With our digital solutions, we show how to use digitalization for our rural areas.


Digital Teams

How do new flexible work models with distributed teams, digital collaboration, and agile methods work in practice?



How to develop the climate-neutral urban district of the future?



How can you as a citizen be mobile in rural areas?


Digital Village Bavaria (“Digitales Dorf Bayern“)

How can digitalization give food supply a boost?


Smart MaaS

You are looking for a digital solution for a mobility offer into which third-party services can also be integrated?


Smarte LandRegionen

How can digital services support the provision of vital services in rural counties?


Digital Villages 3

Support for municipal political involvement.



An open initiative on the topic of “Artificial Intelligence in Municipalities”


Smart tau Hus

How can the potential of digitalization be exploited successfully in rural areas?

Selected Projects on Digitalization of Rural Areas

AI in Medium-sized Cities

In this project, together with project partners, we are investigating the possibilities of using AI in the public sector of medium-sized cities in Rhineland-Palatinate.

Studies / publications on the topics of Smart Regions and Smart Cities

Morgenstadt City of the Future

Sustainable Cities and Regions

A new strategy for the broad implementation of sustainable development in cities and regions. [in German]

Heimat Westfalen

Concepts for local supply in rural areas

The Digital Villages project examines the challenges of rural areas in terms of digitalization. [in German]

Bitkom Study

Bitkom Smart City Atlas

A structured overview of the 50 pioneer cities in Germany with their respective strategic and organizational approaches to digitalization [in German]

Publication #Landleben

Digital Life in Rural Areas (“Digital Leben auf dem Land“)

A guide to digital life in rural areas [in German]

Publication #Landleben

Our Future in the Digital Village (“Unsere Zukunft im Digitalen Dorf“)

Digitalization potentials in municipal development illustrated by examples from Rhineland-Palatinate [in German]

Bertelsmann Study

Mobility and Digitalization (“Mobilität und Digitalisierung“)

Four future scenarios how digitalization can change mobility in urban and suburban structures in the next 10 to 20 years [in German]

Survey by the German County Council

How Counties Address Digitalization (“Wie Landkreise sich der Digitalisierung stellen“)

Overview of the state of digitalization in counties; opportunities, obstacles, practical examples [in German]

Fraunhofer IESE Blog

On our blog you can regularly find posts on Digital Villages, Smart Rural Areas, Digital Ecosystems, Smart Cities, etc.