Illustration: Beteiligungskonzept für die Ausarbeitungsphase der Smart City-Strategieentwicklung

The Smart City Strategy: Participation Process Launches

The process to develop the new Berlin Smart City Strategy has entered the next stage: the design phase is now followed by the finalisation stage, which will focus on specifying targets and measures. In Phase 2, Berliners will once again be able to actively contribute to the process.

Some suggestions are already online: one user would like to see a 3D visualisation of the city that helps residents understand district development ideas, concepts and visions, while another user suggests making gathered data available to provide an extensive and up-to-date open database. Since 9 November, Berliners have been able to help flesh out the new Smart City Strategy. After the Berlin Senate passed the Strategic Framework as the basis for the new strategy on 3 August , the project has now entered the finalisation stage. Put in concrete terms: until May 2022, all of urban society can contribute to the process via a range of participation formats and thus answer the question of what a smart Berlin worth living in should look like.

Depicting the diversity of Berliners

“We would like to see the Berlin Smart City Strategy developed by urban society as a whole. We are therefore conducting an extensive participation process and involving the city’s five key groups of actors, namely science, business, administration/politics, organised civil society and seldom-heard groups (Editor’s note: people with disabilities; people who have experienced migration; people who have experienced discrimination; children and youths; and homeless people),” explains Dr  Frank Nägele, State Secretary for Administrative and Infrastructure Modernisation. The Digital Berlin city committee will reflect the diversity of the Berliners. Here, citizens selected at random will join Berlin administration employees to develop concrete content for the new strategy, supported by Smart City experts, with a range of public formats supplementing the process. Interested parties can comment on the preliminary results online and thus help shape the implementation of the strategy.

Phase 2 of a three-phase process

The development of the new Berlin Smart City Strategy, funded by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI) as part of the Smart Cities Model Projects programme, is expected to be completed by autumn 2022. The process comprises three phases in total: the Strategic Framework was developed during the recently completed design phase, with more than 1,600 Berliners contributing to the brainstorming phase in various workshops and online in March and April 2021. Around 350 citizens then commented on the resulting first draft of the Strategic Framework online. The document passed on 3 August contains trailblazing central ideas, principles and overarching future perspectives for the new Smart City Berlin. The finalisation phase which is now underway will focus on developing specific targets and measures and bringing the Strategic Framework to life.

In the third implementation phase, scheduled from early January to the end of 2022, the project team will decide which new projects the Smart City Berlin will start working on; five exemplary pilot projects will be implemented throughout the city.

The broad participatory approach is a cornerstone of the strategy process, as is the appointment of a Strategy Advisory Board, made up of smart city experts, and of a Strategy Board, on which relevant political fields are represented. “The Smart City Strategy focuses on innovative urban development and at the same time pursues new approaches in terms of participation. We are delighted to be able to accompany the participation process so intensively and are looking forward to hearing the Berliners’ ideas and suggestions,” says Dr Benjamin Seibel, Head of CityLAB Berlin, which is coordinating the strategy process on behalf of the Berlin Senate Chancellery.

The finalisation phase of the new Smart City Strategy gives Berlin’s urban society the chance to use its creativity to help determine the direction the city’s development will take, as well as the role digitisation can play in that development.

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