KIEZBOX 2.0 – AN AUTONOMOUS INFO STRUCTURE IN THE EVENT OF CRISIS
How can Berlin provide its residents with local information in the event of a large-scale power outage? Kiezbox 2.0 aims to strengthen Berlin’s resilience should a catastrophe arise. The pilot project is being developed and implemented as part of the Going Digital Together: Berlin (“Gemeinsam Digital: Berlin”) strategy.
By July 2025, the project team aims to have developed solar or battery-powered hotspots as small, energy-independent prototypes, which will then be connected via a decentralised mesh network. The basic concept behind Kiezbox 2.0 is to create an autonomous communication structure to be able to connect to regional emergency services and keep the population up to date in the event of a power outage.
The pilot project was officially launched on 16 May with a kick-off workshop organised by CityLAB Berlin within the framework of the Going Digital Together: Berlin strategy. The workshop also marked the Kiezbox 2.0 project’s entering the exploration phase, during which the team compared the project’s fundamental objectives to user needs to make sure measures are geared towards specific application scenarios and less necessary functionalities are omitted.
Kick-off workshop: Process and results
The workshop first focused on reviewing the technical feasibility of Kiezbox 2.0, before introducing use cases and discussing the application thereof with the associated partners. In a next step, participants defined a list of use cases that could be implemented in test operations.
The kick-off workshop revealed one interesting finding: all project members had previously slightly underestimated the importance of the Kiezboxes’ “standard operation”. While crisis mode aims to provide an autonomous means of communication between emergency services as the operators of critical infrastructure and people looking for help, standard operation serves very different purposes: to conduct further measurements, which can be passed on to the city, administration and state-owned enterprises for evaluation and as decision-making aids on the one hand; and to provide information on the Kiezboxes to residents and help them familiarise themselves with the boxes in preparation for an emergency on the other.
No trivial task; accordingly, the entire consortium had many questions. The workshop helped gain clarity on the focus of the next project phase; findings from the kick-off workshop will be used to define possible use cases in the time to come.
Partners and supporters of Kiezbox 2.0
Current and associated partners of the Kiezbox 2.0 pilot project include TSB, the Berlin fire brigade (German only), the Freie Universität Berlin (FU Berlin) as well as the HTW Berlin University of Applied Sciences (HTW Berlin). Other associated partnerships are currently being discussed.
As part of the Going Digital Together: Berlin strategy, Berlin is implementing a total of five pilot projects funded by the Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building (BMWSB). Besides Kiezbox 2.0, these are: SMART SPACE Hardenbergplatz; Data and Smart City Governance; Smart Water; and Smart Participation/ Community Budgeting. The BMWSB funding programme Smart Cities Model Projects currently has 73 pilot projects throughout Germany, each with several individual measures. Berlin was selected for funding in September 2020..
Going Digital Together: Berlin is a fusion of the Berlin Digital Strategy and the Smart City Strategy. Like all projects developed and implemented as part of Going Digital Together: Berlin, Kiezbox 2.0 is supported by CityLAB Berlin, which organises workshops and provides methodological aid. This neutral external perspective aims to help give measures a solid foundation.