This was our 2023 summer party!

A fantastic day full of highlights – see here for a review.

By Pia Gralki

If we were to count the steps taken by all CityLAB team members on the day of the summer party , we’d easily crack the million mark: with so many panel talks and multiple stages, workshops and parallel program items, no wonder! Once again we gave our all at Von Greifswald on June 29th – and you brought our summer party to life with your active involvement, dialog and feedback. To everyone who debated and partied with us we’d like to say thank you – and what better way to do it than with some great pictures of an impressive day! Here are some of the highlights of our 2023 summer party – though selecting them was anything but easy for us.

This year’s summer party was held on the grounds of Von Greifswald. @FLORIAN REIMANN

The stage program: from springboard innovations to reducing bureaucracy.

Are we living in innovative times? And are we moving in the right direction? It was with these questions that author and science journalist Thomas Ramge opened his talk on so-called springboard innovations on our main stage. In particular, he took a look at the role of the state, the market, and the administration, and the extent to which they have to work together to enable innovation and technology that lead to truly radical improvements for the community. 

Francesca Bria, President of the Italian Innovation Fund and Director of The New Hanse program, was among those who told us how things can move forward in the democratic provision of data. In her interview with Geraldine de Bastion, co-founder and CEO of Konnektiv, Bria offered to transfer to Berlin her insights from her collaboration with the city of Hamburg on digital democracy, data use and sustainability – and she earned spontaneous applause.

Full house at the opening by our director Dr. Benjamin Seibel. @FLORIAN REIMANN
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Thomas Ramge opens the main stage.

We were taken on a trip to see innovations in other cities around the world by Carlo Ratti, who as director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), does research into prototyping, open data, mobility and sustainability. We also had the pleasure of welcoming two Chief Digital Officers (CDO) to our stage at the same time: Martina Klement, who recently took up this position in Berlin, and Laura Dornheim, CDO of the City of Munich. Together with our director Dr Benjamin Seibel, the two discussed trends and challenges in the digital transformation of administration.

In addition to these talks, panels and interviews, there were lots of other inspiring insights, demands and findings put forward by our speakers. We share some impressions of these here and offer our sincere thanks to everyone who contributed to this program.

Carlo Ratti provides insights into the work of the Senseable City Lab.
Frederike Kaltheuner in conversation with Max Hoppenstedt.
Panel “From paper tiger to paper plane – reducing bureaucracy in digitization projects”.
Martina Klement, CDO Berlin and Laura Dornheim, CDO of the City of Munich, in conversation with Dr. Benjamin Seibel. @FLORIAN REIMANN

Workshops and meet-ups: experimentation encouraged!

At the numerous workshops at our summer party, there was once again a lot of tinkering, trying out and experimenting. At our Kiezlabor , for example, there was discussion of what other areas of application and key topics might be considered. The building workshop continued in very practical style: here, with the Leipzig Gießt team, rainwater collectors were created from simple materials – in keeping with the “sponge city” principle” Requiring even less material but even more ideas, the first steps towards a functioning prototype were taken together at the workshop “Prototyping for Beginners” – using pen and paper only.

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Rain collectors are being created here. @FLORIAN REIMANN
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From the idea to the first prototype.
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Prototyping workshop for beginners.

Minds bubbling over with insights were also to be found at the LabCamp, the ninth edition of the networking meeting of public innovation labs. And at our meet-up on Gemeinsam Digital: Berlin there was not only some very nice merchandise but also a lot of inter-agency dialog on the measures being developed as part of the new smart city and digital strategy for Berlin.

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The LabCamp #9.
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The LabCamp #9.
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Workshop situation. @FLORIAN REIMANN
Networking Meeting of Gemeinsam Digital: Berlin. @FLORIAN REIMANN

Prototyping: artificial intelligence you can touch

Things got particularly interactive when it came to our prototyping team’s new products and exhibits, which were exclusively displayed and demonstrated at the summer party. Likewise in on the action: Kiki, Roki and Ernst – the Kiezbot chatbot crew who answered all our guests’ questions about Berlin, sustainability and technology. Also not to be scoffed at were the insights that our chatbot for the handbook Public Service Design was able to reveal – no wonder, if you’ve learned the ultimate bestseller for method training and innovation processes entirely off by heart!

Ernst, Roki and Kiki are ready to answer questions.
The Kiezbot.
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The Kiezbot in action. @FLORIAN REIMANN

For their individual “AI portrait, our guests were able to look deep into the eyes of a mysterious box that uses a camera and various parameters to create an AI-based, personified alter ego image of the person, which they could then take home with them if they wished. If anyone did manage to solve the riddle of Berlin, it was probably with the Ideas Cube – the ultimate dice game for developing sustainable ideas for a city worth living in. The solutions proposed shouldn’t be taken too seriously, however: they were randomly generated by an artificial intelligence.

You have to have ideas – or in this case, roll the dice.

Kiezlabor: our Tiny House is officially open.

There were proud moments at our summer party, especially for our Kiezlabor team, who officially opened their Tiny House for the digital transformation . Likewise in on the action: the new CDO Martina Klement, who dropped by in person to give a speech and toast with us on the diverse formats that the Kiezlabor will be implementing in and with Berlin’s neighborhoods in the future. We’re delighted that our container has already been so well received and we can’t wait to see what will happen as it makes its way through the city!

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CDO Martina Klement opens the Kiezlabor together with our director. @FLORIAN REIMANN
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Proud, prouder – the Kiezlabor team together with CDO Martina Klement.

Last but not least, the all-important question remains to be answered: did we manage to resolve all Berlin’s open question marks and weak spots in a single day? Since this wasn’t a realistic undertaking from the start of course, we can distance ourselves somewhat from the answer, but this much can be said: we got a good deal closer to finding solutions – that’s one thing we can be sure of. How? We’ve broadened our perspective to include other cities, communities and projects. We’re very grateful for this dialog and we’ll continue to draw on the expertise of our guests and our audience for a long time to come. Once again: thank you so much for this, and we’ll see you next time – we look forward to welcoming you to CityLAB any time you wish!

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No summer party without a proper team photo – here with CDO Martina Klement (left) and Karen Laßmann, Head of the Smart City Unit, Berlin Senate Chancellery (right). @FLORIAN REIMANN.

PS: Still haven’t had enough of the summer party? See our Flickr album for even more photos.