re:view – Digitizing The Greenery: How Do We Want To Live?

Social participation, the right to the city, the right to internet access, diversity and open spaces in urban and rural areas – all these aspects, brought together under the Digitizing the Greenery tag at #rp17, got everyone thinking and are far from being definitively clarified.

Even if you weren’t able to join us in person – you can find all the topics online on our website or our YouTube channel. We’ve compiled the most important questions and issues for you in our re:view.

How do we want to live?

Orwell’s Animal Farm isn’t just a simple allegory anymore – in a social sensor experiment, three dairy cows were monitored over the course of 30 days. Together with Chapter One and the Westdeutschen Rundfunk (WDR), reporters Björn Erichsen, Jakob Vicari and Bertram Weiß developed a completely new journalistic format: With the help of sensor data, a text robot allowed the networked animals and objects to talk to us.  Sensor journalism (DE)  – a harbinger of the transition that we are about to undergo.

Every breath counts – the founders and developers of the CityTree have taken that to heart. They’ve embraced the challenge: How we can use digitalisation to utilise plants and thereby help solve environmental issues? Under the “We grow clean air in cities“ motto, mosses are made useful for urban-centred humans thanks to IoT technologies, while simultaneously creating better breathing air in our cities.

A number of participants will now be able to independently measure just how many cities are affected by particulate matter pollution – the OK Lab Stuttgart let you make your own particulate matter sensor, consolidating the network of measurements in Germany and calculating values in real time. 

How can we use digital technologies to better understand our environment?

You’re interested in self-organised, healthy nutrition? Then you should definitely take a closer look at the IPGarden concept in the follow-up to #rp17. Since August 2016, the 9-person IPGarden team has created an open space where you can get gardening and independently and transparently produce your own food. Fertilising and watering the plants with the click of a button and watching the plants grow. Philipp Wodara gave the audience the full picture in his talk “The garden of the future todaY (DE)”.

Berlin is filled with green – but why do we not take it in more? And what would be needed to strengthen our awareness? Martin Tscholl and Ulrike Sturm from the Museum of Natural History Berlin presented the “Naturblick” app at #rp17, which aims to draw our attention to the (city’s) nature. In addition, their session (DE) discussed how nature is understood in Berlin and talked about the challenges facing digital environmental education. Want to take another closer look at the project? Then come to Digitizing the Greenery on 29 June 2017 in the Wolkenhain at the IGA Berlin! 

Who has the right to the city? And: How can we facilitate social participation?

What do the Design Research Lab at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK) and the Prinzessinnengärten in Kreuzberg have in common? They both agree that all the technology surrounding us increasingly defines our lives, while the open spaces that allow for cultural diversity are continuing to shrink.

Andreas Unteidig and Marco Claussen have committed themselves to pushing social and cultural exchange and have created platforms like the Nachbarschaftsakademie (Neighbourhood Academy) to accomplish this. In the face of the increasing monopolies of global players, which influence both urban and digital development, they demand: Reclaim your city for more diversity! Find out more here in their #rp17 contribution "Digital Commons, Urban Struggles and the Right to the City?"

The way we move through ever-smarter cities is increasingly being controlled by technology. Franziska Maria Tachtler takes a critical look at the data collection behind smart cities: Have another listen to find out what these smart city technologies are based on and what areas need more transparency in regards to the movement data that is collected on us.

How can we build bridges between the city and the countryside?

Digitalisation is also incessantly forging ahead in rural areas. Simon Kowalewski illustrated what kinds of new utopian spaces this can create in his talk “Stadtflucht der Nerds” (Urban exodus of the nerds), which accompanied our 2nd symposium on 25 May in the Wolkenhain at the IGA Berlin 2017. 

Sarah Brühl, Sebastian Köffer and Dominik Pascal Magin discussed how we can prevent the break-up of urban to rural culture and what kind of digital educational infrastructures need to be created to ensure this. See and hear how digital hubs should operate to better network rural and urban regions with each other.

How can we network players and stakeholders with one another?

It wasn’t just #rp17 speakers bustling around at our Digitizing the Greenery meetup. IGA goes digital – Jeannine Koch highlighted how nature and technology are by no means contradictory: Amongst other issues, the IGA elaborates on questions concerning the future of the agricultural sector in relation to digitalisation and how we can shape the open spaces available to us. Thies Schröder outlined the importance of urban open spaces and sustainable growth for urban development, referencing the metropolitan open space conference.

This discussion isn’t just limited to our symposia of the same name, “Digitizing the Greenery”, which takes place every last Thursday of the month at the Wolkenhain in cooperation with the IGA until August 2017. The Institute for Ecological Economic Research at the TU Berlin is also getting in on the conversation and invites you to join their Autumn Academy, which runs from 4-8 October 2017.

We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone for the great discussions, contributions and suggestions at #rp17 and look forward to what Digitizing the Greenery has in store for us until the next re:publica from 2-4 May 2018.

Photo credit: re:publica/Jan Mischalko(CC BY-SA 2.0)