From Science Week to Rotes Rathaus and digital participation

A workshop report from the Smart City strategy process

By Anne Kruse und Niklas Kossow

As you may have noticed, we at CityLAB Berlin are coordinating the development of the new Smart City strategy on behalf of the Berlin Senate Chancellery. We’re currently creating a very wide-ranging participation process with the support of Politics for Tomorrow and the Nexus Institute. The whole operation is being funded under the Smart Cities model projects funding line offered by the Federal Ministry of the Interior and KfW. Shortly before Christmas we would like to give you a brief review of the last few weeks.

As a team, we were very pleased that the Strategic Framework was approved by the Senate before the end of the summer. This sets out the overarching vision for Smart City Berlin. Here, the Berlin administration has set itself the goal of working jointly towards a constructive future for a sustainable, resilient and cooperative city that is geared towards the common good.

Kick-off event for the Digital Berlin Municipal Committee

The next phase started with a large-scale kick-off event at Berlin Science Week. We presented our plan for the next few months to interested parties, and the approximately 80 participants raised lots of questions and ideas. We’re breaking new ground here so we particularly welcome this high level of interest. If you missed the event, you can watch the recording here. In the participation concept, we set out our approach and explain why the combination of four different participation vehicles is an innovative approach for Berlin.

The Digital Berlin Municipal Committee has a particularly important role to play in this process. It is a collection of some 70 randomly selected Berlin residents who are able to contribute their diverse perspectives on the Smart City and the digitalization of Berlin. On November 20, members of the Municipal Committee met for the first time at a kick-off event at the Rotes Rathaus – Berlin’s city hall. This gave rise to the first intriguing discussions. The Municipal Committee will be developing and assessing ideas together with employees of the Berlin administration.

Digital Berlin Municipal Committee kick-off event, left to right: Karen Laßmann, Christian Rickerts, Caroline Paulick-Thiel

The first expert workshops got underway at the end of November: More than 100 experts from business, science, administration and civil society contributed vital ideas and suggestions on possible operational goals and challenges in connection with the Smart City strategy. Here, IT experts met with housing construction specialists and experts from municipal utilities – after all, this is what the smart city is all about: taking a combined approach to urban development and digitalization. There was fascinating discussion at all three workshops. These focused on how technologies can be deployed to allow multiple use of buildings, digital applications for sustainable mobility and how Berlin residents can get actively involved in neighborhood activities

Before Christmas, the Berlin administration was also invited to participate. Dedicated administration employees have a key role to play in connection with the Smart City strategy. In many cases, they’re the ones who will enable ideas to be put into practice in the first place. We want to bring in their perspective as well in the course of the next few weeks.

But of course we want all Berliners to get involved. So mark your calendars for the first public conference on February 24, 2022 where the interim results will be presented. You can also participate online at over the holidays. Please go on sharing your smart city ideas with us up until January 2, 2022. Together, we’re working step by step towards a smart city that is geared towards the common good!

This article was written by Anne Kruse and Niklas Kossow form the Smart City-Team of CityLAB Berlin.