Smart City Berlin, Dr. Thomas Letz and Claudia Rathfux; CDO Dr Ralf Kleindiek; Beate Albert; Bereichsleiterin Smart Cities bei Berlin Partner

Left to right: Netzwork spokespeople Dr. Thomas Letz und Claudia Rathfux; CDO Dr Ralf Kleindiek; Beate Albert, Division Manager Smart Cities at Berlin Partner; photo: Sibylle Kubale

“Smart Means More Than Just Going Digital”

Berlin’s CDO Dr Ralf Kleindiek visits the Smart City Berlin: on 31 March, the network met on a larger scale for the first time in 2022 and at the same time welcomed a captivating guest with Berlin’s new Chief Digital Officer. An excellent opportunity for the network to take stock and look at the Smart City Berlin’s prospects during the new legislative period.

The Smart City Berlin network with its more than 150 members from the fields of research and science, business and administration has been committed to helping Berlin develop into a smart city since 2013. The network’s expertise is in particular demand when it comes to key milestones and framework conditions – both in terms of developing Berlin’s Smart City Strategy and in other political contexts, such as elections and the formation of government. Sufficient grounds for the network to regularly reflect on its own work and to renew its cooperation with the Berlin administration and government.

At the network’s first meeting of this year, which took place on 31 March, participants looked forward to welcoming a very special guest: State Secretary Dr Ralf Kleindiek, Berlin’s new Chief Digital Officer (CDO), gave the group insight into the work he has taken on since his appointment. “To me, smart means more than just going digital: we need to ask what we can do to ensure the city runs more smoothly in the areas that matter to its people,” said Kleindiek, who is responsible for smart city issues, besides steering and digitising administration.

The CDO believes one question is key: how can we create a sustainable and smart city worth living in based on concrete products and projects? According to Kleindiek, this requires unambiguous decisions, a simpler cooperation between administration and business – and improving cooperation within administration itself. “It’s one thing to bring things together on paper, we have to put them into practice together, as well,” said Kleindiek. And he believes digitisation offers the opportunity to do just that. “When it comes to digitisation, our job is to boost the exchange of information and ideas between the city’s sub-systems and get to implementing.”

The next items on the meeting’s agenda were just as captivating and rich in content: the network’s two spokespeople, Claudia Rathfux and Dr Thomas Letz, presented an impressive overview of the work completed in the past months – starting with the development of a position paper for the elections to the Berlin House of Representatives and ending with inaugural meetings with the elected senators and district mayors. And a lot has happened within the network, as well: at regular intervals, members are given the opportunity to meet the spokespeople “for a  – digital – coffee”. In addition, the Core Group, which steers content-related work, has been strengthened by experts from the network, and new projects and expert groups are currently being developed. Participants also welcomed some of their new members, who made short pitches to introduce themselves to the auditorium.

In summary, Dr Ralf Kleindiek and the Smart City Berlin network agree that the aforementioned tasks can only be completed together, in these new alliances. And that a close exchange of information between the CDO and the Smart City Berlin network is an essential basis to achieve just that. (vdo)