Workshop of the Digital City Alliance Berlin on “COVID-19: Lessons learned for the Berlin Digitization Strategy” focusing on observations and experiences during the spring 2020 pandemic and drawing conclusions for a democratic and inclusive digitization policy for Berlin.
The current COVID-19 highlighted the importance of an inclusive design for digitization processes, enabling social participation and making digital infrastructures accessible to everyone in the sense of public utilities. It has become obvious that digitization policy is not a secondary field but must play a central role in cities’ sustainable development.
Problems and challenges in many different areas became very clearly defined, and at the same time the very diverse Berlin players developed their ideas and potential with initiatives, neighborhoods, and the administration showing the manifold possible achievements of cooperation.
One of the outcomes of the workshop is the call for Kiez Labs as local, neighborhood-based contact points for digital participation. Kiez Labs are designed as accessible discursive formats embedded in an urban context as well as temporary laboratories in neighborhood facilities such as care homes, libraries, schools, hospitals, and parks.
Digitization should no longer be understood as a technical and technology-driven policy field but must be perceived as a social change challenge that is to be designed in an interdisciplinary and participatory manner. The strategic alignment of Berlin’s digitization policy should be worked out in close collaboration in an interdisciplinary cooperative exchange process.