Photo: Unplash/ Skyline: Bhakti Parab; Glühbirne: Joey Harris

Smart City Pilot Projects: Launch with Public Participation

As the first of five pilot projects within the Berlin Smart City Model Project, the Smart Water project will launch in January 2022. One core element of the entire model project is the participation of actors from administration; business; science; and civil society. Prior to the pilot project’s launch, project requirements will be discussed in a co-creation process; the results will then form the basis for the final project description.

As a Smart City Model Project funded by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI) and the KfW bank, Berlin is developing a new Smart City Strategy, to be finalised by autumn 2022. The participation of experts and urban society is a core element of the process; this applies to strategy development as well as to the development and implementation of five pilot projects, all of which are also funded by BMI and the KfW bank and are scheduled to launch in early 2022.

The (professional) public will be involved in the process prior to the launch; the aim here is to keep all parties updated on the project application’s progress and to work on the focus of the respective project together. A further aim is to review whether the perspectives of future users and impacted parties have been considered; at the same time, this provides an opportunity to identify potential project risks at an early stage and include them in the planning process. The participation process addresses any persons actively involved in the operative implementation of a smart city project; in general, the project groups are multi-stakeholder consortia with members from the fields of administration; science; business; and civil society. 

The first participation workshop will be held in January 2022 and focuses on the Smart Water pilot project. Interested parties and the project team will meet at a round table to discuss project requirements. 

5 pilot projects as experimentation sites throughout the city

In total, Berlin will implement five pilot projects as part of the Smart City Model Project until the end of 2026. The objective of these pilot projects is to test new methods and share learnings; as such, they can act as examples for future smart city projects. This objective has been documented in the Strategic Framework for the Berlin Smart City Strategy (German only), which was also developed in close cooperation with the public. 

Each pilot project has been assigned to one organisation which assumes project responsibility; all projects are coordinated and governed centrally by the Senate Chancellery. In addition, CityLAB Berlin helps the Senate Chancellery and project teams realise participation formats. 

Berlin’s pilot projects have different focal points, all of which are relevant for smart cities, and are spread out across the city:

  1. Shaping and operating smart squares in the city – Hardenbergplatz 
  2. Data governance and data-driven administration 
  3. Smart Water – Modelling and governance 
  4. Participatory budgeting and smart participation
  5. Data in daily life and crises – Kiezbox 2.0 

The Berlin Smart City Strategy: Learnings from practice

The process to develop the new Berlin Smart City Strategy comprises three phases: conceptualisation, development and implementation. Based on the Humble Government approach, these three phases will take combined, iterative effect; findings obtained during the implementation phase will be fed back into the strategy. 

Within the pilot projects, the teams will work on solutions autonomously, and will test approaches determined in the Strategic Framework for the Berlin Smart City Strategy, which was passed in August 2021 after being developed during the first phase of the process. Any experience gained in the pilot projects will be part of a collective learning experience made possible through peer learning and participation structures. 

To participate in the pilot projects, apply via email to: