Smart City Berlin, CityLAB, Digital Vereint

„Digital Vereint“

A new online-platform by CityLAB Berlin has pioneering character: “Digital Vereint” supports associations, charitable organisations and foundations with their digitalisation efforts. The Berlin Senate is subsidising the project, which is also intended to test the operation of non-commercial infrastructure. 

How does digitalisation bring a new buzz into the club-life of a bee-keeping club in Berlin-Reinickendorf? How can a sports club motivate children and youths online to keep the ball rolling during lock down? And how does a Berlin arts collective use specific digital tools for their work? You can find out on “Digital Vereint”, a new platform that went online on 1 March. It addresses all active people in Berlin who would like to make their civil society work more efficient with digital tools. It is hosted by CityLAB Berlin – a project by Technologiestiftung Berlin, which is subsidised by the Senate Chancellery of Berlin.

“For our civil society, which is doing a great job during Corona times, digitalisation is a great challenge. Many associations and organisations have had to completely restructure their work and have shown a lot of creativity in the process. But from numerous conversations and scientific surveys we also know: The need for consultation is huge,” says Sawsan Chebli, State Secretary for Civic Engagement and International Affairs in the Senate Chancellery of Berlin. “With the new website, we would like to make it easier for non-profit associations, foundations and initiatives to use digital opportunities for their work.”

Non-profit associations and organisations are still spending a lot of time on administrative work. It could be done much quicker with digital tools. But often, there is not sufficient know-how to install digital tools and to use them for the work of the association. This is also confirmed by the new study  „Digital im Verein“ (digitalisation in associations) published by Technologiestiftung Berlin. This is where the “Digital Vereint” platform comes in: it offers information – e.g. on topics such as data protection and safety on the Internet –, testimonials, tool overviews and workshops on topics such as “Social Media”. Organisations can share insights and make new contacts via the community chat. 

Trial of non-commercial infrastructure

But the portal also has a second approach: As part of the project, the Technologiestiftung wants to try out the operation of non-commercial IT infrastructure which can be used by volunteers for their work. To that end, they offer a free video conference system and an open chat software. “We are gathering valuable experience in the running of open source infrastructure and pass this knowledge on to the public administration,” explains Dr. Benjamin Seibel, Head of CityLAB. In future it may be possible that the public sector will support civil society not only financially, but also by providing open and privacy-friendly software. “Digital Vereint” also strives to do pioneering work to that end.

Curious? On 9 March, “Digital Vereint” introduces themselves as part of an online panel. Taking part: Sawsan Chebli, Benjamin Seibel (CityLAB Berlin), Elisa Lindinger (superrr lab & Initiative Digitale Zivilgesellschaft stärken!) and Melanie von Orlow (Imkerverein Reinickendorf-Mitte). (vdo)

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