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Smart City Strategy / Gemeinsame Digital Berlin

„Gemeinsam Digital: Berlin“(Together Digital: Berlin) combines the digital and smart city strategies. We define smart as solving future challenges in creative, open, experimental and participatory ways. This strategy helps to establish new work approaches, agile methods, competence building, and a systematic knowledge transfer between the administration and its inhabitants. By aligning technologies, methods, and cultural processes, it supports existing strategies to reach their respective goals.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

In Berlin, the conditions for cross-departmental and cross-level work within the administration are significantly more complex than in other cities, as Berlin is both a state and a municipality. At the same time, Berlin, as a capital, offers the potential to further develop its ecosystem of actors who can drive forward and benefit from digitalization.

The process model of the strategy is framed by a "Values Compass," developed in a participatory process, and by the "Action Fields," that guides the implementation of individual measures. This results in the vision of a sustainable, community-oriented, resilient and cooperative city. It is intended to ensure that Berlin's digitization benefits everyone in the city, including strengthening Berlin as a business location , as well as ensuring that everyone can continue to participate and contribute to the strategy in the future. The implemented measures ultimately ensure that Berlin develops along the "Value Compass." In doing so, they also have an effect on the city and the built environment and, through the iterative approach in implementation, can gather learning experiences that will be taken into account when scaling up.

"Together Digital: Berlin" strategy is a transformation program. Berlin's digital transformation can only succeed if all the stakeholders involved are willing to engage in a collective learning process. Consequently, the strategy itself is also designed as a learning strategy. Based on a comprehensive monitoring system, the strategy and its tools, as well as individual projects, are to be evaluated and adapted in regular cycles. This strategy does not replace specialized strategies, such as the digital inclusion strategy, the open data strategy or the cybersecurity strategy. Nonetheless, it sets the framework for their implementation and is complemented by these specialized strategies.

Innovation Description

What Makes Your Project Innovative?

Together Digital: Berlin is innovative because:

  • Interdepartmental and cross-sectoral work: The measures are aligned with local conditions and their solution approaches pay attention to larger cross-sectoral challenges. As a results, formats that support cross-departmental, cross-sectoral and cross-level work are used even before measures are launched, thus promoting the networking of policy fields.
  • Implementation support: As part of the implementation and as an important element for the learning strategy, implementation teams receive methodological and technical support oriented toward agile approaches.
  • Prototypical approach: The administration and other actors build and test prototypes, try out new approaches to learn quickly and, if necessary, define more precisely which specific services should be put out for tendering.

What is the current status of your innovation?

As of fall 2022, the strategy is currently in the last review in the city parliament and will be published at the end of the year. As part of the strategy process, 5 pilot projects were selected and already received funding, so they are currently being implemented.

Innovation Development

Collaborations & Partnerships

The project lead is the Senate Chancellery, which works together with the administration and a citizen panel consisting of around 70 people drawn by lottery. There is also a board of experts of civil society organisations and an advisory board with researchers, politicians and entrepreneurial associations.

Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

Civil society can propose future actions to be implemented, will be part of the consultation process, and benefit from digitized administration processes, from easy-to-understand language and from barrier-free information and communication. Enterprises, as the biggest client group of the administration, benefit from simplified processes. Local government bodies and administrations benefit from more functional processes and responsibilities.

Innovation Reflections

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

The strategy will only be officially launched in November, so the overall impact cannot be described yet. The impact will be evaluated regularly. For that purpose the teams working on each proposed action have formulated several output, outcome and impact goals that can then be discussed. These discussions can then lead to a realignment of the goals or equally possible to a realignment of the evalution processes if deemed neccessary.

We expect that the projects and the resources provided by the strategy (such as a flexible framework regarding the planning and implementation phase) will strongly influence the collaborative spirit and increase of shared knowledge in the administration.
As of now, several pilot projects have already been started. Based on these projects, we can state that some of the involved actors have used the strategy process to reach out to colleagues whom they had not known, and initiated or deepened exchange formats on shared challenges.

Challenges and Failures

Firstly, the pandemic moved all deliberative processes online. This led to moving remaining in-person workshop designs (.e. of up to 100 people) to online formats. We divided the subgroups into smaller individuals, prepared training sessions for online facilitation, and shortened the amount of inputs.

Secondly, a change of government officials after the elections meant a new mayor and the establishment of a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) position, leading to renegotiations and strategic realignments.

Thirdly, the smart city strategy was later on combined with the digital strategy, forcing further process realignment. We needed to take time off the development processes and invested more time in getting to know the other team, in merging parts of the two teams, and in setting up new communication channels and meeting routines.

Finally, administration workers have only limited access to open-source tools for collaboration which required us several work-arounds.

Conditions for Success

The most important success factor was finding people inside the administration that were eager to push for change and share knowledge about existing change processes and resources.

Clear leadership on what can be developed and pushed, especially at the start when not all stakeholders share the same vision is crucial.
A sensible number of communication channels in e.g. slack and documentation of work processes and their results is equally important.
Enough man and womanpower to complete the deliberative processes, analyse them and make use of the findings was further helpful.


Within the strategy there are several goals, one of them being an increased exchange with other pilot cities working on smart city strategies in Germany and abroad. We do not think that pure replication in itself makes sense, which is also strongly supported by the empirics of research projects on urban inovations and transformations. Rather, it is about making available the learning journey to others including the sharing of place specific conditions and reactions to emerging problems.

Lessons Learned

Despite our experience with public sector innovation processes we have underestimated the inertia that a complex administration set-up like Berlin naturally brings along. Being prepared to work with people who are highly knowledgeable but oftentimes highly restricted due to internal rules and processes regarding what tools can be shared requires inner calm and ability to find suitable online tools.

Year: 2022
Level of Government: Local government


  • Implementation - making the innovation happen

Innovation provided by:

Date Published:

27 January 2023

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