As global society continues to become increasingly digitalised, the ‘smart’ cities in which we live are beginning to follow suit. Yet, over the last years, what we understand as a smart city has evolved beyond a definition focused on tech-solutionism and the digitalisation of city infrastructure alone. Increasingly, it has become clear that the development of smart cities must ensure inclusivity, safety, resiliency, and sustainability in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Berlin Declaration, recently signed by all EU Member States, stresses that digital transformation must be driven collaboratively and with full respect to the fundamental rights and shared European values. The development of smart cities should follow the same path, moving away from a techno-centric understanding of smart cities toward one that is value-based and human centric. To successfully accomplish this, there must be dialogue and inclusion amongst all stakeholders. 

Berlin is now taking the first step in such an inclusive dialogue. We are pleased to announce that the Berlin Senate Chancellery, Technologiestiftung Berlin CityLab, and the Hertie School’s Centre for Digital Governance have organised an online and international symposium on 23 and 24 March 2021. This first step is important for the city of Berlin and its path towards developing a new smart city strategy.

The symposium will take stock of the current state-of-the-art research and knowledge on smart cities, and their future, by engaging in discussion with renowned smart city academics and practitioners. The event will provide a forum for those interested in smart cities to listen, learn, present, and discuss cutting-edge knowledge, research, strategies, and success stories. The conference will have four workshops with the themes: citizen centricity; inter-sectoral collaboration; data governance; and administrative capacity in the smart city context. In each workshop participants will hear from a panel of experts on the topic, and then be able to participate in a comprehensive discussion. The insights gained from this symposium will be incorporated into Berlin’s smart city strategy.