Illustration: 123comics, 2021

Online comments on the Strategic Framework of the Smart City Strategy: The results are in

350 Berliners contributed, taking to the internet a few weeks ago to comment on the first draft of the Strategic Framework for the Berlin Smart City Strategy. An excellent result, especially considering the tremendous scope of the draft, which was also created with the active participation of the urban society. The revised document is expected to be submitted to the Senate of Berlin this June. 

Berlin is working on a Smart City Strategy and the entire urban society has contrubuted: In March more than 1,600 Berliners took part in CityLAB Berlin’s first online survey on the future of their city. Combined with the results of 35 interviews and a range of workshops that 250 representatives of Berlin’s civil society participated in, the survey provided a wealth of ideas, perspectives and inspiration. These were then reviewed, assessed and summarised to create the first draft of the Strategic Framework for the new Berlin Smart City Strategy. For ten days in late April, the document was publicly accessible at mein.berlin.de, where interested parties could also leave comments. 350 Berliners took part in this ‘commenting phase’. 

Commenting: (Time-) consuming, yet extremely fruitful  

That might not sound like very many, but commenting was extremely time-consuming and required concentration and commitment. “We were particularly delighted that many Berliners read the entire text or selected parts of it and then provided extremely constructive feedback, making some excellent suggestions. The diverse expertise really enriched the document,” says Niklas Kossow, project manager at CityLAB Berlin, which coordinates public participation within the scope of the Berlin Smart City Strategy process on behalf of the Senate Chancellery of Berlin. “As people had to at least read individual excerpts of the text, 350 comments are far more than we had anticipated.” 

The Berliners focused most intensively on those issues that are very present in public discussions –  and were not afraid to voice differing opinions. “This includes housing and mobility, for example. However, we can only address these issues indirectly in the Smart City project, as the departmental strategies provide direction, and the Smart City merely supports them.”

What are the next steps? 

This June the Strategic Framework, including the incorporated comments, will  be submitted to the Senate of Berlin. The citizens of the city will then be able to actively contribute to the process once again from September 2021 on, when they will be asked to help perfect the Smart City Strategy. This will be developed by the Senate of Berlin in a multi-stage process as part of the Smart City Model Project, with the aim of digitalising the city in a sustainable, resilient way that is oriented towards the common good. 

The Strategic Framework, formulated with the aid of the diverse voices of the urban society, will form the basis for this strategy – after all, the participation of the urban society as a whole is a key part of the strategy process. “Thanks to its wide range of actors from civil society, business, science and administration, Berlin has great potential to become a Smart City. But we have to give them space to contribute,” explains Niklas Kossow. This applies in particular to the development of concrete measures. “Berlin needs a range of stakeholders to implement its Smart City projects, which is why they are being involved in the early development stages of the Smart City Strategy. This helps improve the strategy and ensures that it is in line with the desires of the Berliners.”

For an overview of current developments in the strategy process, please visit the  Online-Wissensspeicher (public knowledge repository, in German only)

FAQs on the Berlin Smart City Strategy process (in German only)