Asia in Berlin - "Smartness" connects
This year, the Asia-Pacific Week (hosted by the Asia-Pacific Forum Berlin e.V. and SenWEB) was refreshed with a new format: conferences on digitalization. This was a valuable opportunity for the Technologiestiftung to contribute its expertise to the discussions as well as to expand its normally Berlin-focused perspectives toward Asia.
Planning for this event began with the return of Dr. Benjamin Seibel, head of our Ideation & Prototyping Lab, from TICTeC@Taipei in September 2017, where he presented BerlinMinecraft as an urban planning tool. While visiting Taipei, he found the perfect contact for our topic: Dr. Chen-Yu Lee, Director of the Taipei Smart City Project Management Office (TPMO), who accepted our invitation and presented as part of the "smart cities - innovative projects in Asia and Berlin" discussion held on April 24. There, Dr. Chen-Yu Lee discussed approaches to smart cities together with Nicolas Zimmer (CEO Technologiestiftung), State Secretary Christian Rickerts (Senate Department for Economic, Energy and Public Enterprises) and Dr. Pun-Arj Chairatana, head of the National Innovation Agency of Thailand.
An additional “speaker” made of paper was left at the microphone, but he turned out to be an intervention by a group of artists in the context of the APW. Although his contribution was also well-received, he did not take part in the discussion.
Berlin showed how integrated projects and open data serve as the key to change in the energy and mobility sectors. Refrigerators that can act as batteries in local supermarkets demonstrate how flexibilisation in the retail sector can have an ecological and economic impact on a smart city.
In Taipei, innovative projects are carried out by vendors together with TPMO, and, if successful, they are implemented by the government. In Thailand, regional companies and municipalities are driving the domestic smart cities movement.
Even though the technologies, sensors and data are what dominates discussions when it comes to Smart Cities, the speakers agreed that it is important to ensure citizens are included in the experience. Wherever possible, technologies need to be translated and made intelligible to society at large, and the many challenges cities face - infrastructure, mobility, environment, administration, security, housing – need to be tackled together.