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Data & Smart City Governance on the example of air quality management


Processes of rapid urbanisation pose immense challenges for for Berlin’s urban society. Here, the joint implementation of digital solutions to master challenges such as carbon neutrality, the mobility turnaround or the modernisation of administration raises pressing questions: Who is allowed to access which data for which purposes under which conditions? Which technologies are used to collect, file and process the data where and how? In which organisational structures or with which procedures are parameters for the processing of the data determined?

The aim of the project is to develop a data governance model that finds answers to these questions using a tool for monitoring air quality (air quality management) in urban areas as an example. The central question is: How can public administrations, economic actors and civil society cooperate on the topic of data use and processing in a way that is oriented towards the common good and on an equal footing?

“Data & Smart City Governance on the example of air quality management” is a pilot measure of the strategy Gemeinsam Digital: Berlin.

How do we understand data governance?

Data governance aims to balance conflicting interests in the collection and reuse of data. This concerns data sharing to generate new insights, to drive innovation or to connect people, be it personal data, business secrets or even open data. Possible conflicts can range from ensuring the provision of public services and safeguarding trade secrets to preventing surveillance and censorship up to protecting against exploitation, discrimination or political repression. Successful data governance thus aims to implement operational procedures in technical systems that protect the interests of all stakeholders and society as a whole. 

To achieve this goal, a set of decision rules, criteria and indicators, processes, roles, responsibilities, and guidelines and standards need to be defined. All actors involved need to be coordinated on the technological, organizational as well as legal level. This coordination is summarized in a data governance concept.

In our project, the data governance concept is developed inductively (bottom up) on the previously mentioned use case of air quality management. Additionally, existing governance principles in the area of smart city as well as corporate and data governance are evaluated deductively (top down). As a result, a model for data governance in data-driven public services is generated that can be transferred beyond the specific use case to other municipalities and applied to further challenges of urbanization. 

Participation process

In order to adequately address the complexity behind the issue of polluted air, we continuously involve stakeholders from politics, public administration, business and civil society throughout  the project. In an iterative participation process, existing interests in the collection and processing of data are discussed to identify and defuse potential conflicts early on. The goal of the participation processes is to navigate between existing democratic processes, the responsibilities and design options of the administration, and the freedom rights of all actors involved.

Project process

In the first phase, the project focuses on various questions about the three identified data governance problems. The answers found will then result in the data governance framework. A more detailed version of our process can be downloaded below.



 DownloadsWorkshop documentation:



Duration06/2022 – 03/2025
PartnerThe project coordination and research take place in cooperation with the Kompetenzzentrum Wasser Berlin:

Nikolaus de Macedo Schäfer (Researcher)
Nicolas Caradot (Group Leader Smart City & Infrastructure)

FundingFunded by the Governing Mayor of Berlin – Senate Chancellery – with funds from the Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building and the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (Reconstruction Loan Corporation)


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Maurice Stenzel

Research Coordinator: Data & Smart City Governance

Maximilian von Grafenstein, Prof. Dr.

Associated Researcher, Co-Head of Research Programme

Part of the research programme

Former employees

Working paper

de Macedo Schäfer, N., Schweinberg, M. J., Stenzel, M., & von Grafenstein, M. (2023). Data Governance im Spannungsfeld datengetriebener Verwaltung. Herausforderungen von Kommunen bei der Etablierung einer Smart City Administration. HIIG Discussion Paper Series, 2023(4). DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.8297607 Publication details

Auer, A., von Grafenstein, M., Kruse, L. & de Macedo Schäfer, N. (2023). Öffentlichkeitsbeteiligung in der datengetriebenen Verwaltung. Ein prozessbezogener Ansatz zur Lösung datenbezogener Interessenkonflikte durch die Ergänzung formeller Beteiligung. HIIG Discussion Paper Series, 2023(5). DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.4603704 Publication details

Bria, F., Blankertz, A., Fernández-Monge, F., Gelhaar, J., Grafenstein, M. v., Haase, A., Kattel, R., Otto, B., Sagarra Pascual, O., & Rackow, L. (2023). Governing Urban Data for the Public Interest. The New Hanse Project Blueprint. Publication details

Lectures and presentations

Data & Smart City Governance am Beispiel von Luftgütemanagement
Smart Country Convention. Digitalverband Bitkom, Messe Berlin. hub27, Messe Berlin, Berlin, Germany: 09.11.2023 Further information

Maurice Stenzel

Data & Smart City Governance – Datengetriebene Daseinsvorsorge gemeinwohlorientiert realisieren
9. Zukunftskongress Staat & Verwaltung. Wegweiser Media & Conferences GmbH. WECC - Westhafen Event & Convention Center, Berlin, Germany: 19.06.2023 Further information

Alexandra Auer, Maurice Stenzel

Data and Smart City Governance. The importance of multi stakeholder processes and citizen participation
Joint Master in Global Economic Governance & Public Affairs: Digitalisation for Sustainable Development. Centre International de Formation Européenne. Centre International de Formation Européenne, Berlin, Germany: 20.03.2023

Alexandra Auer, Lea Reetz

Organisation of events

Reallabor Bürger*innen-Beteiligung: Bessere Luft durch Verkehrswende?
25.11.2023. CityLAB Berlin, Berlin, Germany (National) Further information

Luisa Kruse, Alexandra Auer, Maurice Stenzel, Maximilian von Grafenstein

Data Governance in Smart Cities in Post-COVID-19 Times
24.10.2023. Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, Berlin, Germany (International)

Jörg Pohle

Öffentlichkeitsbeteiligung in der dategentetriebenen Verwaltung
23.10.2023. Humboldt Institut für Internet und Gesellschaft, Berlin, Germany (National)

Luisa Kruse, Alexandra Auer, Maurice Stenzel, Maximilian von Grafenstein

Expert*innen-Dialog: “Datenmodelle in der Verwaltungspraxis: Abwägungskriterien für Entscheidungsprozesse der datengetriebenen Verwaltung”
08.09.2023. Humboldt Institut für Internet und Gesellschaft, Berlin, Germany (National) Further information

Maurice Stenzel

Digitaler Salon: Großbaustelle Daten. Byte für Byte zur Smart City
28.06.2023. STATION Berlin, Berlin, Germany (National) Further information

Alexandra Auer, Maurice Stenzel

2. Steuerungsrunde “Data & Smart City Governance am Beispiel von Luftgütemanagement” / Gemeinsam Digital: Berlin
08.06.2023. Humboldt Institut für Internet und Gesellschaft, Berlin, Germany (National)

Maurice Stenzel