Why GD:B?

Berlin is facing major upheaval: the city is seeking to become climate-neutral, tackle the mobility revolution, modernize its administration, strengthen social cohesion and promote gender equality, at the same time involving all residents more closely in the process. These are complex tasks that require creative and innovative solutions. Our goal is a functioning city – in the face of a momentum that Berlin has not seen in recent years and crises that will continuously confront us with major challenges.

A plan is required to make Berlin fit for the future, along with the relevant actors and the right tools. The digital transformation* is to offer enormous added value for residents, the city administration, businesses, academia and research. Future-oriented urban development is to noticeably improve residents’ quality of life. The administration is to become more efficient and be more appealing to urgently needed new personnel as a modern employer. For businesses, uniform standards and user-centered processes are to result in improved workflows and planning opportunities.

Digital transformation is not a purely technical task, however: it requires profound changes to existing structures and processes. Ultimately, this means a cultural change that will affect all administrative departments and all sectors of society. Innovative solutions contributed by Berlin’s urban community have a crucial contribution to make here– whether Berlin residents, the city administration, academia and research, business or civil society.

The graphic shows the layers of the smart city strategy: Values compass, fields of action, measures, governance, implementation, impact measurement.

Structure of the Strategy

As different measures are implemented, the strategy's degree of success will become apparent. This enables us to learn by practice, and we can then channel the findings back into the strategy. The compass of values and the fields of action form a framework of orientation for implementing individual measures. A governance model defines the roles, competences and tasks of the players involved, steering the process of transforming Berlin into a smart city. As it's crucial to have a standardised procedure for implementing the measures, we have developed a model to plan, test and realise measures according to uniform principles in line with the strategy. Evaluating the impact of the strategy provides indicators that are applied to each measure in order to assess their success in terms of the st

  • GD:B – the platform for digital transformation

    GD:B is not designed as a stand-alone specialized strategy: it aims to support the achievement of existing urban development goals[1] and other specialized goals through the appropriate use of new technologies, tools and methods. GD:B is an umbrella strategy for a sustainable, smart Berlin. In order to promote Berlin’s transformation into a smart city [2], the GD:B [3] strategy offers a way of establishing new working methods and forms of cooperation, more agile* structures, competence building, and a systematic transfer of knowledge between administration and the urban community. [4] In this way, it provides a platform for Berlin’s digital transformation. The learning strategy and its implementation are the responsibility of and supported by the Chief Digital Officer of the State of Berlin, the State Secretary for Digital and Administrative Modernization (CDO/StS D) and his team. Nevertheless, successful implementation requires the active cooperation and involvement of all Senate administrations and districts.

    In Berlin’s interpretation, smart does not merely mean “digital”. Berlin’s definition of a smart city aims to address how future challenges can be solved in a creative, open, purposeful and participatory way.[5] In this connection, digital technologies are seen as an important tool in bringing about the sustainable, community-oriented transformation of the city, but not as an end in themselves.

    The digital transformation must take into account the needs of Berlin residents as well as the interests of Berlin’s business community, scientific and research institutions, and civil society. It can only succeed with the involvement of the whole of the urban community. The strategy was developed as part of an extensive participation process in which importance was attached to achieving the greatest possible diversity of perspectives. As such, it reflects the needs of the urban community.[6] The strategy was created as part of the Model Projects Smart Cities (MPSC) funding program run by the German Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building.[7]

    The implementation phase is based on the principles of humble government*[8]: key factors here are openness, the involvement of Berlin residents and cooperation with a range of different urban actors.

  • GD:B – a strategy that conceptually incorporates its own implementation

    Berlin offers an excellent basis: hardly any other city has such a diverse ecosystem made up of actors in the worlds of business, academia and civil society with digital expertise. A wide range of innovation and transformation processes have already been initiated in the public sector in recent years.[9] Experimental forms of collaboration are already being practiced at Berlin’s eleven Zukunftsorte[10] as well as through other initiatives. GD:B seeks to build on these and on Germany-wide and international experience to develop further measures through targeted collaborative activities. Disadvantaged and environmentally polluted neighborhoods and development areas in particular are to benefit directly from the measures.

    Since Berlin is both a state and a municipality, the situation in terms of interdepartmental and cross-level work within the administration is even more complex. At the same time, Germany’s capital offers enormous potential for the further development of Berlin’s ecosystem of actors[11], who are capable of driving innovative digitalization and benefiting from it. GD:B acts as an enabler* that seeks to tap into Berlin’s potential. Three key elements for implementation are as follows:

    1. Interdepartmental and cross-level work: The solutions offered by the measures are geared towards tackling local or city-wide, cross-sector challenges. Even before measures are implemented, formats are used that support interdepartmental, cross-sector and cross-level work and promote the dovetailing of policy fields.
    2. Measures support: As part of implementation and an important element in terms of the learning strategy, Action Teams* receive methodological and technical support oriented towards agile approaches.
    3. Prototypical approach: The administration and other actors build and test prototypes and try out new approaches in order to learn swiftly, if necessary enabling them to define more precisely which specific services are to be put out to tender.

  • GD:B – an enabler for the administration and the urban community

    GD:B claims to be an enabler and therefore an overarching action strategy for Berlin’s development into a smart city. The status analysis showed that this is the right way to go.[12] Instead of a purely theoretical formulation of goals, aspirations and plans, the focus is on strategic practice. The aim here is to show how digitalization and smart city measures are to be implemented in Berlin: transparently, openly and on a participatory basis, but also based on central coordination, clear specialist responsibilities and according to an agile implementation model. In this way, all actors and existing projects are to be supported in achieving the goals of existing and future Berlin strategies. The new approach will initially be tested on various projects, then developed further and extended to other measures on a step-by-step basis.

    This process model is framed by the Values Compass, which was developed on a participatory basis, and the fields of action that guide the implementation of individual measures. From these, the vision of a sustainable, community-oriented, resilient, and cooperative city is evolving. This aims to ensure that the digitalization of Berlin benefits everyone in the city. Another focus to be incorporated is that of strengthening Berlin as a business hub. The measures are intended to ensure that Berlin’s development is aligned with the Values Compass. They will have a local or city-wide impact, potentially even taking effect on a trans-regional scale. The iterative* approach to implementation means that learning experience is gathered and taken into account when scaling.

    Berlin’s digital transformation can only succeed if all the players involved are willing to engage in a collective learning process. Consequently, the strategy itself is designed as a learning strategy, too. Based on a comprehensive monitoring system, not only individual projects but also the strategy and its tools are to be evaluated and adjusted in regular cycles. For this reason, the individual chapters exhibit differing levels of detail, as in some cases they provide an in-depth account of how learning takes place. The strategy is not a substitute for specific specialized strategies such as the digital inclusion strategy, the Open Data* strategy or the cybersecurity strategy: it lays out the framework conditions for the implementation of these specialized strategies and is complemented by them.

    One important element of the strategy is the website https://gemeinsamdigital.berlin.de. In addition to providing an overview of ongoing and planned measures, it features a knowledge repository that is being established to offer a wide range of working materials and supplementary documents for free use. What is more, all Berlin residents can use the website to propose measures themselves or get actively involved in the ongoing process.

  • … the example of the Smart Water measure

    Smart Water is designed to help reduce the impact of the climate crisis on cities, such as heat islands, flooding, and water pollution. It is being financed as a pilot measure under the Smart City Berlin model project using funds from the Model Projects Smart Cities (MPSC) funding program run by the German Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building. An agile digital planning tool is to support the development and implementation of urban development measures to take account of rainwater management at an early stage. To this end, a specific, combined focus is placed on water infrastructures and green spaces, also integrating other planning aspects such as road planning.

    Among other things, the measure takes into account the following specialized objectives from the StrategieBerlin 3.0:

    • Enhance water protection and climate impact adaptation
    • Ensure sustainable management of the water supply
    • Secure and improve (urban) ecological qualities

    The example illustrates the idea of culture change as a central element of the strategy:

    • Close cooperation on the part of a range of different urban actors with the city administration (various Senate administrations and districts).
    • Support from the GD:B team (Support Team) to ensure the process is creative, open, purposeful and participatory.
    • Usage and testing of prototypes for the development of the digital planning tool. Lessons learned from the implementation of the Smart Water measure will inform the first learning cycle of the strategy.

  • References

    Please see glossary for explanations for terms marked with an asterisk*.

    [1] These are summarized in particular in BerlinStrategie 3.0. See: Der Regierende Bürgermeister von Berlin. Senatskanzlei (2021). BerlinStrategie 3.0. Available online: https://www.berlin.de/rbmskzl/_assets/politik/berlin-strategie-3-0-langfassung.pdf

    [2] The Berlin definition was developed together with Berlin’s urban community based on the Smart City Charter and the New Urban Agenda. See: Bundesinstitut für Bau-, Stadt- und Raumforschung (BBSR) (2017). Smart City Charta: Digitale Transformation in den Kommunen nachhaltig gestalten. Available online: https://www.smart-city-dialog.de/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/smart-city-charta-langfassung.pdf; UN Habitat (2019). New Urban Agenda. Available online: https://unhabitat.org/about-us/new-urban-agenda

    [3] GD:B is a fusion of the Berlin Digital Strategy and the Smart City Strategy. The Digital Strategy provides the implementation expertise for the Smart City Strategy, which in turn offers the vision for Berlin – a conceptual merging of urban development and digitalization. See: Gemeinsam Digital (2022). Gemeinsam Digital zur Smart City. Available online: https://gemeinsamdigital.berlin.de

    [4] Urban society is defined as including the city administration, policymakers and actors from business, academia and organized civil society as well as silent groups and Berlin residents. See: Glossary.

    [5] The Berlin definition of a smart city was adopted by the Berlin Senate in 2021 as part of the Strategic Framework for the development of a new Smart City Strategy. See: Der Regierende Bürgermeister von Berlin. Senatskanzlei (2021a). Strategischer Rahmen für die Entwicklung einer neuen Berliner Smart City-Strategie. Available online: https://gemeinsamdigital.berlin.de/strategischer-rahmen-smart-city

    [6] See the Annex for an overview of the participation process and its outcomes.

    [7] See: Smart City Dialog (2022). Smart Cities in Deutschland. Available online: https://www.smart-city-dialog.de/modellprojekte

    [8] See Annex III: Impact measurement, also Annala, M. et al. (2020). Humble Government: How to Realize Ambitious Reforms Prudently. Available online: https://tietokayttoon.fi/documents/1927382/2158283/Humble+Government.pdf

    [9] Examples of this are provided in the analysis section of the Grünbuch für die Digitalisierungsstrategie des Landes Berlin (“Green Paper for the digitalization strategy of the state of Berlin”). See: Senatsverwaltung für Wirtschaft, Energie und Betriebe (2020). Grünbuch für die Digitalisierungsstrategie des Landes Berlin. Available online: https://www.berlin.de/sen/wirtschaft/digitalisierung/digitalstrategie/201006_gruenbuch.pdf. Further approaches are to be found among the submissions for the Berlin Administration Prize. See: Die Regierende Bürgermeisterin. Senatskanzlei. 2022. Berliner Verwaltungspreis. Available online: https://www.berlin.de/verwaltungspreis

    [10] Geschäftsstelle Zukunftsorte (2022). Zukunftsorte Berlin. Available online: https://zukunftsorte.berlin

    [11] The ecosystem includes numerous actors from different sectors. Educational institutions such as schools and state-owned organizations are also included.

    [12] The status analysis includes the conclusions of the Grünbuch für die Digitalisierungsstrategie des Landes Berlin (Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises, 2020) and the definition of challenges by experts during the smart city strategy development process.

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