A central component of the strategy Gemeinsam Digital: Berlin is a uniform implementation model for the measures that promote agility, enable comparability of different approaches, and support shared learning. The uniform implementation model is to be applied to all smart city and digital projects in the future. These projects are methodically supported by the GD:B Support Team. The implementation model helps breathe life into the strategy, realize the measures and have an impact in the city.

The model is deliberately designed to take into account the heterogeneity of different measures, their scope of action and framework conditions, and the persons responsible for the measures. It gives the actors involved a great deal of freedom in terms of operational implementation. It offers actors, including newcomers such as startups, an attractive procedure, thereby also encouraging other groups to apply for tenders and drive forward the implementation of GD:B. Approaches and instruments that serve gender equality (e.g. gender budgeting) are taken into account during implementation. In addition, the division into standardized project phases aims to facilitate open, collaborative work and enable the mutual sharing of interim outcomes and insights.

The graphic shows the phases of the implementation process.

Five different phases in the process

The implementation model consists of different phases, each of which is to lead to a concrete outcome. It is possible to start in different project phases, depending on the maturity of the measure in question. Based on the result of the preliminary process – a uniform description of the measure – it is straightforward to estimate in which phase and according to which methodology the project can be effectively continued. Based on specific method templates, formats and checklists, the implementation model offers its own support for each process phase. These promote the implementation of individual measures while at the same time enabling the transfer of knowledge between the actors.

To this end, the strategy involves the development of a manual that makes these materials available for action and provides guidance through each phase. This manual is expanded and adapted as the strategy is implemented. The materials are based on the principles for good practice set out in the strategic framework for the development of the Smart City Strategy [42], which were developed by way of a participatory process involving the urban community and through the preliminary work on the Berlin Digital Strategy [43]. The materials are continuously expanded as part of the learning strategy and complement the methodologies of the Project Management Manual of the State of Berlin [44]. Within the Berlin administration, implementation of a project according to the Project Management Manual is possible at any point; from a strategy point of view, the recommendation is to go through the preliminary process for each measure.

  • Phase I – Preliminary process

    The preliminary process aims to help define the scope and framework of a measure before its implementation begins. It helps clarify the underlying challenges and the objective of the measure and the roles and mandate of the actors, as well as resource planning, ICT framework conditions, and cost-effectiveness. The main objective is to arrive at a precise definition of the issues to be addressed. Initial public and expert participation [45] ensures that the measure is designed to meet needs and can be linked to other relevant measures. In addition, in order to enable sound planning of the measure, methods from project phases II – IV are applied in the preliminary process. In this way, it is possible to explore which work stages are to be carried out in which of the subsequent phases, or whether it is possible to start with later phases right away.

    Outcome: At the end of the phase, an Action Team has been established with clearly defined roles, responsibilities and capacities, along with a political mandate for implementation and a standardized description of the initial project and its intended impact.

  • Phase II – Exploration

    In the exploration phase, the perception of potential solutions is refined, depending on the objective. Based on research and interviews with users and experts, related examples of good practice are examined and existing assumptions verified. Key actors for the further process phases are identified and involved. Lessons learned from previous projects and other cities are considered for further development.

    Outcome: At the end of the phase, there is a clear understanding of the needs to be addressed as well as initial solutions that can be operationalized: these have been developed in participatory consultation and are now ready to enter the testing phase. In addition, indicators are defined in this phase that can later be used to verify the effectiveness of the measure.

  • Phase III – Test

    In the test phase, promising solution approaches are prototyped until they are ready for testing based on a rapid learning cycle. The goal here is not yet to develop a complete solution but to carry out a practical verification of previous assumptions on a small scale. By taking this initial practical step, it is possible to reduce the often high level of complexity of smart city and digital projects, thereby clarifying uncertainties and allowing aspects to emerge that were previously not considered or were overlooked. If necessary, the test phase can be repeated several times until the prototype meets expectations.

    Outcome: At the end of the test phase, there is a clear understanding of the measure to be developed and the developmental tasks that accompany it, based on empirical evidence.

  • Phase IV – Development

    In the transition from Phase III to regular operation, the tested prototypical aspects of the measure are (further) developed and consolidated. This phase can vary considerably, depending on the type of measure. The focus is on the further development and systemic integration of the measure into already existing structures, procedures and processes. In addition, the framework conditions for permanent operation must be guaranteed including continuous evaluation based on the overall learning strategy. The effectiveness of the measure is reviewed and ensured when it is transferred to regular operation based on the indicators defined during the course of the project.

    Outcome: At the end of the development phase, there is a functioning product that has been developed, systemically integrated and established on a permanent basis by the participants.

  • Phase V – Scaling

    In the final phase, the experience gained from the implementation of the measure is used to broaden the scope of the measure and to extend it to other contexts where applicable. This ensures a transfer of knowledge inside and outside Berlin so that others can benefit from the experience gained from implementing the measure. Measures are developed so that they can be adapted or replicated in other contexts. [46] For this reason, learning experiences are standardized, documented, and published by Action Teams in Phase V so as to enable scaling. Central agencies such as the Gemeinsam Digital Unit, the Digital Transformation Coordination Group and the Support Team provide assistance here. The scaling of successful measures is to be taken into account in the budget planning of the state of Berlin.

GD:B’s phase model enables a structured planning and implementation process for digitalization and smart city projects. The measures of the GD:B strategy differ from others not primarily through the use of digital technologies but because of the smart approach.

Smart action means that:

  • Challenges are approached creatively, openly, effectively and on a participatory basis
  • Silos within the administration and between different actors are broken down and cross-administrative cooperation is cultivated more intensively
  • Implementation expertise is built up both inside and outside the Berlin administration
  • Mutual learning takes place and a broad perspective is adopted so as to gain a comprehensive understanding of problems
  • Collaborative involvement, elaboration of user-centered requirements that are put up for discussion
  • Prototyping, testing, optimizing and stabilizing (partial) solutions based on shared principles

Despite the complexity of many measures, the involvement of the urban community and a wide variety of perspectives make them more tangible, manageable and user-centered. This approach begins in the pre-planning stage and can take effect through to the various implementation phases. The process of mutual learning between different measures and the bringing together of differing perspectives allows more robust and transparent decisions to emerge that are compatible with further developments in the future.

... implementation with the example of the Smart Water measure

Smart Water is a network measure. It first goes through the preliminary process, where the Action Team is assisted by the Support Team. At the end of the preliminary process, a decision is made as to which phase to change to and using which methodology going forward. The project plan is then adapted accordingly. Before final development of the agile planning tool, a phase of exploration and testing is probably conducted by means of a prototype in a district. If this is successful, the planning tool can be applied to the whole of Berlin and transferred to other cities.

Strategy Chapters

You can find these and other contents in the Gemeinsam Digital: Berlin strategy paper.

Download it here: strategy Gemeinsam Digital Berlin

Click here for the Annex: annex to the strategy