City Lab


City Lab is a year-long program focusing on digitalization and the city. City Lab is a co-operation between Hybrid Space Lab and Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG).

City Lab investigates ongoing developments at the intersection of cities and digital technology, engaging with urban mobility and public space, new patterns of space utilization for living and working, circular city, climate adaptation and healthy cities.

City Lab aims to bridge the gap between data and privacy experts and urbanists, architects, city makers, civil society and governance.

City Lab facilitates a transdisciplinary dialogue investigating ongoing developments at the intersection of digitalization and the city.

Digitalization transforms our cities, with far-reaching efforts towards technology-powered increased efficiency, sustainability and at times participation. This raises new questions on privacy, data governance and (digital) design, historically unaddressed by city planning, architecture, civil society and governance. With cities worldwide striving to earn a “Smart City” reputation, it is however disputed who exactly benefits from these concepts.

Centering the empowerment of the city user, the Smart Citizen, it is urgent to approach and steer technological developments to meet citizens’ needs and desires, supporting our visions of how we want to live in our cities!

The leitmotif of City Lab – “digital macht stadt” – captures the potential of digital technology to power city development and re-define power in the city.

The kick-off event of the City Lab series will take place on February 21st 2019 with a keynote lecture by Marleen Stikker, co-founder of WAAG Society and focus on City Making in the Digital Age.

City Making in the Digital Age
Keynote Marleen Stikker
Waag Society

21 February 2019
Registration (fully booked)

@ Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society

Eager to showcase themselves as innovative and future-ready, cities worldwide are currently in the process of implementing an array of new technologies. These are intended to make city life more efficient, convenient, sustainable, and in some cases, even more democratic. This developments, framed as the “Smart City,” often take the form of sensors that gather data about traffic conditions, air quality, waste collection, energy use and more – all generating reams of data with the goal of to enabling governments to make informed decisions and to optimise processes of urban infrastructure. Next to this, digital platforms offer services that transform the city (use). Many cities also partner with private companies in their quest to become “smart”, hoping to profit from outside tech knowledge to make up for a lack of in-house expertise.

How can citizens actively manage their personal data in a digital city?

What responsibilities does a smart city have towards its residents?

How can technology meaningfully improve citizens’ lives?

For whom is the digital city of the future planned?

Who are the City Makers of the digital age, what are their approaches and their potential, and how can they interact?