Germany consists largely of “rural areas”; in 2015, roughly 18 million people lived in districts classified as “rural.” However, the majority of rural areas currently face a series of challenges: Low population density and forecast population decreases make commercial ventures unprofitable and make it harder to run public services. In turn, this makes life in the country increasingly less attractive for rural residents.
Everyone agrees that this trend must be stopped. One possibility for bringing public services and innovative commercial service offers closer to rural areas, and thus making them more attractive again as places to work and live, is digitalization. The preconditions for digitalizing rural areas are currently being created: over 90 percent of rural households now have a broadband connection of 6 Mbit/sec or faster; about two-thirds have 16 Mbit/sec or faster; and about one-third have 50 Mbit/sec or faster.
Digitalization offers the opportunity to prevent the withdrawal of public services from a region by offering them in a digital form or to improve the quality of existing services.
To date, however, municipalities have shown little inclination to engage with these possibili- ties – often the people responsible know too little about the benefits and the areas in which digitalization can be used. To address this situation, we investigate and illustrate the potential of digitalization for individual areas of life in a series of research projects.