Wolfsburg & Hamm-Chattanooga
Exchange trip to Chattanooga
Contribution by Sophie Wilmanowski, City of Wolfsburg
The City of Wolfsburg and the City of Hamm take part in the Urban Diplomacy Exchange project together with the US-American partner City Chattanooga.
After attending the partnership conference in Washington DC and the subsequent visit to Chattanooga in Autumn 2022, the City of Wolfsburg welcomed the colleagues to Wolfsburg in April 2023. In addition to discussions on the topics of sustainable urban development and digitization, there was also an intensive exchange of ideas about cooperation opportunities after the project phase. A highlight for Mayor Tim Kelly was certainly the joint ride with Gunnar Kilian, Chief Human Resources Officer of the Volkswagen Group, and Lord Mayor Dennis Weilmann with the ID.Buzz across the town hall square.
In June 2023, the project team had another opportunity to take part in a specialist exchange. Christian Cordes from the Department of Digitization and Economy traveled to Chattanooga together with representatives of the City of Hamm and exchanged ideas on the topics of digitization and co-working spaces. Just like in Wolfsburg, the topics of digitization and urban development are omnipresent and trend-setting for many city decisions.
Chattanooga is progressive in the field of digitization: almost every street lamp and traffic light system there is connected with fiber optics. The city's own fiber optic network has a current synchronous bandwidth of 25 gigabits and enables your own smartphone to serve as a "key" for access to Smart City applications such as parking, communication with authorities and an environmental dashboard. Participation and digital inclusion guarantee the success of good implementation projects.. Together with the city society, new projects are developed and tested in a separate community center. The establishment of a city innovation center, where own smart city products and services can be developed, is exciting. Together with the University of Tennessee, innovative topics are promoted there and strategic partnerships are formed with research institutions and the local economy.
Chattanooga is also intensively involved in the development of the inner city. Old industrial areas are being converted and designed into mixed areas. A monocultural use of individual districts is no longer a priority. Rather, the fields of "working, living, retail, sport and mobility" are conceived and developed as a unit. The attractiveness is not only based on design elements, street furniture and green spaces, but also on a bond and acceptance of responsibility by the population: street art is booming and revitalizing the city culturally. The activating vacancy management, which creates diversity in vacancies in public space, also helps here. A large network of volunteers supports many projects and measures. As a result of this, and also the large funding opportunities in the arts and culture sector, downtown Chattanooga is developing more and more.
The project team left Chattanooga with many new impressions and is looking forward to continuing the partnership activities after the end of the Urban Diplomacy Exchange.