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Helping Shape the Smart City Berlin

The Smart City Berlin Model Project has entered the implementation phase: workshops were held on three of the five pilot projects in total early this year. And as in the strategy development phase which is currently underway, the public is involved in the pilot projects’ development and implementation phases. The results of the various participation formats will be incorporated into the respective project descriptions; further public participation formats are planned.

Brainstorming, evaluating, structuring, discussing and finalising ideas – in 2021, these had already been integral parts of the participative process to develop the new Smart City Berlin Strategy as part of the Smart Cities Model Projects, funded by the Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building and the KfW bank. In early 2022, the implementation phase started, beginning in January and February with the first workshops on three of the five pilot projects that make up the Berlin model project named “A smart Berlin worth living in” (“Berlin lebenswert smart”). Moderated by CityLAB Berlin, the events brought together actors from the fields of administration, business, science and civil society at a virtual round table. Prior to the launches of the individual projects, participants discussed requirements from various perspectives; the results will be incorporated into the final project descriptions and project work.

Kicking off with “Smart Water”

Public participation began on 13 January with the “Smart Water – Modelling and Governance” project: the workshop’s central topic of discussion focussed on identifying potential blind spots within the project. During the first part of the two-hour workshop, Dr Angela Jain, member of the Senate Chancellery and responsible for steering the pilot projects, explained the framework conditions and requirements of the funding application. The project partners then presented the preliminary project outline to create a shared knowledge base among participants, followed by an interactive part in which participants discussed individual project components in small groups. They project partners then reviewed the results and incorporated them into the project descriptions. In January and February two further workshops were held as public participation formats on the “Shaping and Operating Smart Squares in the City – Hardenbergplatz” and “Data Governance & Data-driven Administration” pilot projects.

Openness creates trust

Participants found it particularly helpful that different perspectives were brought together at a central, virtual table, as creating a network of relevant actors is an excellent basis that will greatly benefit the project going forward. Further participation formats are therefore an integral component when it comes to implementing the pilot projects. Participants also discussed who would like to contribute, and how, over the further course of the project. “The projects aim to address existing needs; to be able to do so, we are using participation formats to create transparency and openness, something that has been received very positively,” Dr Angela Jain says in summary. “Questioning project approaches critically from different perspectives strengthens the needs-based focus and contributes to legitimising the projects.”

Smart City pilot projects: Learnings from practice

But the main focus of the five Berlin pilot projects isn’t just on taking a concrete question and finding an innovative solution; they will also test new methods and share learnings, which includes enabling participation and the continuous improvement thereof. The smart city pilot projects can act as examples for future smart city projects, as has already been developed and documented – in close cooperation with the public – in the Strategic Framework for the Berlin Smart City Strategy.
Findings obtained during the implementation of the pilot projects will in turn be incorporated into the Berlin Smart City Strategy, making it a “learning” process. Solutions will be developed autonomously within the pilot projects; the teams will also test approaches determined in the Strategic Framework for the Berlin Smart City Strategy, which was passed in August 2021.

Further participation workshops

Prior to the launch of the “Participatory Budgeting and Smart Participation” and “Data in Daily Life and Crises – Kiezbox 2.0” pilot projects, two further participation workshops have been planned and will take place shortly; however, the exact dates have not yet been confirmed.

If you would like to contribute your expertise and user’s perspective to the discussion and are interested in participating in a workshop, please contact CityLAB Berlin via email, stating the respective project:

Public Knowledge Depository (Öffentlicher Wissensspeicher) of Smart City Berlin. (German only)

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