Business & Information Systems Engineering

Document Type

Research Paper


To date, research on smart cities has primarily focused on urban congested areas. As this paper points out, it is becoming ever more important to look at intermediate and thinly populated regions like towns and rural areas as arenas for digital innovation. By following a multi-phase research process, the authors examine towns’ highly individual needs in an exploratory way, derive key aspects from recent literature that can serve to mitigate or solve their problems, and present an open innovation process by way of integrating local context factors, local stakeholders, and suitable information and communication technology solutions. The objective is to develop a first digital innovation approach in a field that has so far been scarcely considered. The authors conduct a case study, which demonstrates the applicability and effectiveness of their innovation approach in a small town in southern Germany and derive first important lessons learned. Thereby, the concept of an innovation ecosystem reveals a promising solution to face the challenges of the investigated town.