Observations by the Digital City Alliance from the experiences of the pandemic in spring 2020
This discussion paper is an outcome of the workshop “Covid-19: IT lessons learned for the Berlin Digitalization Strategy” of the Digital City Berlin alliance on May 6, 2020.
A coherent digitalization policy for Berlin
The current COVID 19 crisis has highlighted the importance of an inclusive design for digitalization. It needs to enable social participation and make digital infrastructures accessible to all people as a public good. It has become evident that digital policy is not a side issue, rather it must play a central role in the sustainable development of the city. In many areas, problems and challenges have become visible. At the same time, the diverse landscape of actors in Berlin has emerged, and unfolded its potential and ideas. Initiatives, neighborhoods and the administration have demonstrated in many places what we can achieve if we support and collaborate with each other.
Building on know-how, ideas and actors
Berlin has the know-how, ideas and people to shape and promote a sovereign and sustainable digitalization for the public. This broad participation of civil society is needed to enable a coherent digitalization policy in the city. Attempts to implement such comprehensive policies in Berlin have largely been unsuccessful, so far.
However, Berlin lacks the political and administrative structures and clear objectives that would enable to integrate this existing potential successfully. An example is the E-Record, introduced as part of the Berlin E-Government Strategy adopted in 2015. It failed due to problems in the tendering process. The Berlin Smart City Strategy of 2015 lacked concrete measures from the outset and the creation of a Smart City information portal aside, no overarching and strategic activities took place. This year the Berlin Senate Chancellery is planning on redesigning the Smart City strategy. In 2019, the Senate Department for Energy, Economy and Public Enterprises began developing the Berlin Digital Strategy. However, it will not be ratified as scheduled in June 2020.
Under the circumstances of a worldwide pandemic both problems and challenges as well as ideas and possible solutions have become apparent. This paper will point out
* what action are required in the short and medium term,
* which competences, solutions and ideas already exist, and
* where there is an urgent need for additional capacities.
It is directed to the political actors involved in digital policy-making (especially the Senate Chancellery and relevant Senate Administrations).
It is only together that we will master the current situation and collaboratively build a long-term digital policy for Berlin.