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Ideas for Berlin residential districts

During the Hackathon "Urban Data - Mind the Gap" in the Einstein Center Digital Future (ECDF), students developed ideas on how residential districts in Berlin can be further developed. The "Hackmack" team's idea won: trucks are using free parking spaces for culture and games. The hackathon was organized by three ECDF professors in cooperation with the BVG and three state-owned housing associations ((GESOBAU,HOWOGE, STADT UND LAND). With the support of a software provided by Aircloack GmbH, anonymized data sets are made available for the participants.

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Between laptops, tablets and cables, students sat in the ECDF and evaluated a wide variety of data: What kind of transports were used where and on what time? Where and how long get apartments rented? What is the age structure in the neighbourhood? The participants of the hackathon used the data to develop new ideas for mastering challenges in the areas of urban development, mobility, inclusion and participation.

The participants cherish the unique opportunity to examine anonymous data sets from the state-owned housing associations Stadt und Land, Gesobau and Howoge as well as Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG). They focused on opportunities, challenges and fields of action for the future development of urban areas.

The interlinking of housing data with the demand for mobility could improve the information base for many urban planning decisions. "This also applies to residential construction, which currently represents a major challenge for Berlin. If we knew more precisely which people live and want to live where and for what reason, we could think more clearly about neighbourhood development, public transport and even the design of public spaces and plan according to the needs of the citizens," said the Hackathon's interdisciplinary organization team. This team consists of the urban developer Prof. Jochen Rabe (ECDF/TU Berlin), the research assistant Max Rudolph (ECDF/TU Berlin), the data scientist Prof. Dr. Helena Mihaljević (ECDF/HTW Berlin) and the legal expert Prof. Dr. Maximilian von Grafenstein (ECDF/UdK Berlin).

If it were up to the "Hackmack" team, trucks in Hohenschönhausen would soon be driving up to the largely vacant parking lots. On board, for example, they would have gardens in which elderly people could plant tomatoes, play equipment with which children could play, or theatre stages on which plays are performed. Second place went to the "Kiez 4.0" team with an interface that is intended to aggregate future developments and their effects, coupled with a participation platform for tenants and citizens. The 3rd place went to the group "HSH-Shuttle" for the development of an autonomous on-Demand shuttle bus service for the better connection of older residents in particular in the Hohenschönhausen metropolitan area to the urban infrastructure such as central stations of public transport.

Jury member and co-organiser Prof. Dr. Maximilian von Grafenstein was delighted with the high quality of all the results submitted: "We are pleasantly surprised by the creative solutions produced by the hackathon format". Prof. Jochen Rabe particularly emphasized the interdisciplinary nature of the work: "It is amazing how quickly and profoundly the different disciplines manage to incorporate their perspectives into a joint product development process. "In a very short time, the teams were able to extract interesting and relevant information from sometimes very complex data and develop creative ideas based on it. That was really impressive to me", says Prof. Dr. Helena Mihaljević.

The cooperation partners of the Hackathon were also enthusiastic about the format. According to Anne Keilholz, Managing Director of Stadt und Land, digital data acquisition and evaluation offers great potential for forward-looking urban planning. The aim is to find solutions that conform to data protection regulations and to develop further instruments. Dr. Sigrid Nikutta, CEO of Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG), emphasized the great potential of data exchange. Thus, qualified data from the housing industry is also extremely useful for the foresighted calculation of cycle times for public transport. Felix Bauer, Managing Director of Aircloak GmbH, knows the challenges of working with sensitive data. Nevertheless, anonymization software can make them useful for society.