Success Story - City of Aarau Step by step towards a Smart City

Aarau counts on digital transformation

With the BSI Customer Suite, the capital of the canton of Aargau, Aarau, and gateB’s digital experts have jointly developed a way of successfully mastering the city’s transformation to an inclusive Smart City for all its residents – with a clear vision beforehand and an implementation strategy that focuses on iterative and hybrid aspects.

- 40 %

less administrative work


digital tickets

+ 35 %

higher response rate


Fabian Hug, Project Manager for Digital Transformation, City of Aarau

Step by step, our city is becoming a Smart City – not through major unattainable projects, but through agile, iterative progress. Every digital improvement is like a paving stone on this path. And the best thing about it is that everyone can lay down a stone themselves.

The Challenge

So, what is it that makes a city a Smart City? Here is a quick answer: When the quality of life of a city’s residents has been maximized in social, economic, and even ecological terms and the consumption of resources has been minimized at the same time, you have a Smart City. It is obvious that topics such as the digitization and networking of information and communication systems play a central role in this. Why? Because organizational processes and the management of a city can only be made more efficient, social, and resource-conserving at the same time when you use innovative technology and holistic development concepts. Critical success factors are extensive networking, comprehensive and meaningful data as well as a vigorous exchange of information and transparent cooperation between the various stakeholders. This is the only way for any existing potential to be unlocked and the rapid scaling of Smart City projects to be made possible.

But how can a city become “smart” when we have to reconcile tradition and digitization?

Until the successful implementation of the BSI Customer Suite, the interactions between the residents of the city of Aarau and the city administration were predominantly analog and characterized by manual processes. Although some administrative services had been successfully digitized on a cross-cantonal platform, the Smart Service Portal, for many services, Aarau residents still had to go to the city office or appear at other city contact points in person. At the same time, residents had the option to contact their city administration by e-mail or phone, however, this was a very time-consuming, error-prone, and inefficient process overall. The management of registrations and inquiries using manually maintained Excel lists, in particular, meant a considerable amount of work, as there were no efficient methods for processing address and contact data, automating interactions, and the internal exchange of data.

At the same time, the city of Aarau recognizes that managing all administrative services in a fully digital manner is neither always possible nor desirable; and that personal visits to the city office will continue to be necessary for certain matters in the future to facilitate direct, human interactions that cannot be completely replaced by digital means. Therefore, even at an early planning stage, the city was striving for a hybrid solution that combines the best of both worlds: the efficiency and convenience of digital processes, complemented by personal on-site support and advice when needed. In the city’s opinion, this balanced mix of digital and personal services should take full account of the needs of all city residents and ensure a high level of satisfaction with city services.

The city of Aarau was able to define additional objectives for its future customer relationship management (CRM) solution: Not only did the city want it to solve existing problems and eliminate risks, but with the introduction of a CRM solution, it also wanted an efficiently designed and integrated networked exchange through various contact channels such as e-mail, website or text message. At the same time, it was important to the city for the system to be able to “grow” flexibly with its individual use cases. Because the city administration project managers had also realized in the run-up to the call for tenders that the digital transformation of municipal facilities cannot be implemented as part of a single major project but must be designed as an iterative process using individual, easily buildable use cases.

The iterative process is one of the most valuable tools for constantly moving forward – even if not everything is working perfectly in the background yet.
Robert Schumacher, Director, gateB

The Solution

As part of the tender for a CRM system, the BSI Customer Suite proved to be the best solution for the city of Aarau. Not only was BSI’s solution able to impress with high scalability and many interfaces but also with data storage in Switzerland proper, which was another crucial factor for the city managers’ decision, in addition to the local proximity to the software company.

Before the actual implementation of the BSI Customer Suite, the city, together with gateB, the consulting and implementation partner, performed an assessment, which clarified which data the city of Aarau already had and how they are stored in various locations. It quickly became apparent that merging all data would require a great deal of effort and time, which led to the decision to gradually build up the BSI CRM database with the help of use cases to eventually obtain the 360° view of citizens that is useful for other processes as the database grows.

In addition, the individual use cases were implemented in a hybrid manner, whenever possible and sensible: Besides the digital touchpoints, analog aspects were taken into account to smooth the transition to the digital Smart City and to prevent the exclusion of population groups with a low affinity for technology.

The following use cases already represent the successful execution of the process:

Use Case 1: Maienzug

The Maienzug is a traditional annual children's and youth festival in Aarau that marks the end of the school year at the beginning of July. Over the years, the more than 400-year-old custom has developed/grown into a major public festival, with around 3,000 people taking part in it.

Digitizing the processing of the invitations for the Maienzug was a critical first step in linking tradition with technology: Within only two months, the project team was able to convert the previously analog ticket sales at the city office to digital tickets with a QR code. They successfully implemented this process with six BSI workflows, eleven landing pages, surveys, and internal newsletters in the BSI Customer Suite: As a result, more than 2,600 digital tickets were sold. At the same time, this use case facilitated the integration of the first data records into the CRM solution.

Use Case 2: Yard waste subscription

Before the introduction of the BSI Customer Suite, residents of Aarau had to buy a yard waste sticker at one of the administrative offices every year and attach it to their containers at home to ensure that they were emptied regularly by the city’s garbage collection.

Now that this process is digitized, Aarau residents have been able to purchase a yard waste subscription for different container sizes on the Internet since 2023. They can automatically renew it from year to year and have the option to pay for it through an online payment solution. A vital component of this process is a data recognition chip that replaces the previous yard waste sticker and facilitates the definite allocation of containers to their owners. And there is more: Since the chip data is integrated into the BSI CX solution, the city can be sure that the data is consistent.

In addition to simplifying matters for residents, this use case has made incoming orders and the entire debtor process in the administration significantly more efficient.

Use Case 3: City Idea

“City idea” is a test run for a participatory budget in Aarau. With a participatory budget, residents can decide how part of the public money is spent. They can submit ideas and vote on them. The city of Aarau makes CHF 50,000 available to its population, and the residents can decide on their own how the money will be used.

For the implementation of this use case in BSI CX, the project team designed a story to collect resident data and check their right to vote. The resulting data is also used for research because “City idea” is part of the National Research Program called “Digital Transformation” (NRP77), which examines the extent to which satisfaction and social coexistence in the city are influenced by various voting mechanisms.


Robert Schumacher, Director, gateB

Not only do the scalability and flexible applicability of the BSI Customer Suite make it possible for various city of Aarau departments to increase efficiency, but they also inspire an exchange of best practices.

Advantages (Technology)

By implementing the BSI Customer Suite, it became possible for the first time to fully digitize administrative tasks in the city of Aarau. Contemporary and user-friendly services were created for city residents, which have been positively received from the beginning and have been used actively so far.

Its wide range of applications and the configurative, easy implementability of projects make the BSI Customer Suite a tool with which innovations are efficient to plan and implement. In the process, it is not only data and information that are shared across departments, but also best practices, which provide motivation and inspiration to the employees of Aarau’s city administration. In addition, since low-code and no-code solutions are used, changes and enhancements can be made without any in-depth programming skills. This allows employees without extensive IT knowledge to participate in the design process and independently initiate processes.

We were able to win our employees over in a targeted manner, as we can now easily implement technical requirements by ourselves. This shift facilitates a flexible adaptation to change and strengthens the independence of employees in terms of digital processes.
Fabian Hug, Project Manager for Digital Transformation, City of Aarau

A look ahead

By integrating more use cases, Aarau plans to deepen the intelligent networking of data and processes and expand its digitization efforts to other areas. For example, implementing an online cemetery administration feature may make it easier for families to complete administrative tasks during a challenging time of farewell and grief. This could include the implementation of a discreet registration option for cremations and the selection of a final resting place for a family member with the help of clear images of the grave sites in the municipal cemetery. Another use case is intended to make city library information and resources publicly accessible through the Internet. With this project, the city of Aarau highlights its claim of promoting education and knowledge through the use of state-of-the-art technologies and making them accessible to all its residents.

With regard to accessibility to data and information, the BSI Customer Suite is to be developed into a state-of-the-art management tool for a wide variety of applications in the future. This means that not only city administration employees will be able to access relevant data and resident information quickly and comprehensively, but also the residents themselves: With a GDPR-compliant web portal, the city of Aarau wants to create a personalized contact point for its resident’s needs, where, in addition to data security, user-friendliness and convenience are at the forefront – and where the idea of developing Aarau into a Smart City step by step plays a part.


The highlights at a glance

  • The city of Aarau was already able to make its “yard waste subscription” process 40% more efficient in its second year through less administrative effort and faster ordering options.
  • The overall efficiency of the “Maienzug” process was increased by more than 25%: The total cost of providing and purchasing tickets was noticeably reduced.
  • Thanks to improved target group targeting, “Kulturapéro,” the mail delivery company, generated a 35% higher response rate.

About the Customer About City of Aarau

Aarau is a medium-sized city and municipality in the Swiss canton of Aargau. It is the capital of the canton as well as of the district of Aarau. Located in northwestern Switzerland, the city has a population of more than 21,000, making it the canton’s second most populous municipality after Baden.

About the Partner About gateB

As a global consulting and implementation company, gateB has been instrumental in unlocking the digital potential of companies for more than twelve years. The gateB team consists of digital experts, data scientists, solution architects, and consultants and covers the entire value chain – from consulting and implementation to integration and enablement services. gateB’s integrated approach and its agile and pragmatic mode of operation provide its customers with faster project success and better time-to-market.


Your next best action: BSI.

Your next best step: Link your goals to BSI.

Zeno Hug, Creator of Customer Delight

+41 58 255 99 59

BSI Customer Suite

Provide a truly compelling customer experience with seven products – all in one solution.