Third test phase of the Digital Villages: citizens to use app to barter, search for, and offer goods and services

Press Release / 13.9.2016

On 4 October 2016, the third, four-week test phase of the Digital Villages Betzdorf and Eisenberg/Göllheim in Rhineland-Palatinate will start. This joint project of the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE in Kaiserslautern, the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of the Interior and for Sport, and the Rhineland-Palatinate Development Agency is all about networking among citizens with the help of digital technology in the sense of modern neighborhood support. In October, the residents will additionally test a new app to barter for services, tools, and other things.

Volunteer delivery service: Ivonne Hofstadt from Eisenberg personally delivers the ordered package to the home of one of her fellow citizens.

Volunteer delivery service: Ivonne Hofstadt from Eisenberg personally delivers the ordered package to the home of one of her fellow citizens.

In the past it went without saying that in a village, everyone knew every one else, and that people would mutually support each other. Every village had its village store, and usually one would find a job nearby. Today, the distances to work and shop have become longer in rural areas. The project Digital Villages addresses the challenges of modern life in rural areas with the aim of developing new concepts for modern neighborhood support.

Citizens organize volunteer support via apps

Using the apps of Fraunhofer IESE, citizens can interconnect with each other, help each other and interact. In addition to the ordering app BestellBar and the delivery app LieferBar, the third phase will introduce the bartering app TauschBar. Via this app, citizens can offer or request services, or even barter for them. They can look for a ride to the nearest town, for example, or for a babysitter, or they can offer their fellow citizens a trailer, a tool, or something similar for rent. Volunteer services are rewarded with virtual digital dollars, so-called DigiTaler. Vice versa, you pay with them when you make use of a service. The testers of the participating municipalities will receive an initial allotment of DigiTaler to start with when they register on the Digital Villages platform.

In the previous test phases, the residents of the Digital Villages were able to shop online at their regional retailers via the ordering app BestellBar. This will also be possible in October. In both test communities, additional retailers have joined and many have expanded their range of products. Delivery is not done by a professional delivery service; rather, volunteers from the communities do this job. These volunteers can see on the delivery app LieferBar who has ordered a package from which retailer. If they travel this route anyway, they can pick up the package and deliver it either directly to the home of a fellow citizen or to a parcel station.

During the last test phase in May 2016, primarily regional foods for everyday use were ordered, such as baked goods or eggs from the local baker or chicken farm. For delivery people like Rainer Guth from Eisenberg, personal contact played an important role in terms of providing a volunteer service. “I preferred delivering the package to the home of the person who ordered it rather than dropping it off at a parcel station because what I really like about this project is that I do not only get connected with others online, but that I ultimately get to talk to people in person.”

The Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE
Fraunhofer IESE in Kaiserslautern is one of the worldwide leading research institutes in the area of software and systems engineering methods. A major portion of the products offered by its customers is defined by software. These products range from automotive and transportation systems via automation and plant engineering, energy management, information systems and health care to software systems for the public sector. The institute’s software and systems engineering approaches are scalable, which makes Fraunhofer IESE a competent technology partner for organizations of any size from small companies to major corporations.

Under the leadership of Prof. Peter Liggesmeyer and Prof. Dieter Rombach, the contributions of Fraunhofer IESE have been a major boost to the emerging IT hub Kaiserslautern for close to twenty years. In the Fraunhofer Information and Communication Technology Group, the institute is cooperating with other Fraunhofer institutes to develop trend-setting key technologies for the future.

Fraunhofer IESE is one of 68 institutes and research units of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Together they have a major impact on shaping applied research in Europe and contribute to Germany’s competitiveness in international markets.