The New Hanse

How can cities use data to become more democratic and sustainable?


The New Hanse

How can cities use data to become more democratic and sustainable?

Over the past two years, The New Hanse, a collaboration between THE NEW INSTITUTE and the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, has been exploring the realm of business-to-government-to-society (B2G2S) urban data sharing


The New Hanse investigated in collaboration with the Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg the relationship between urban digital infrastructures, access to and deployment of data for the public interest; with tangible data-driven pilot projects that addressed real world challenges for the city of Hamburg. The New Hanse aimed to showcase the potential of a citizen centered digital green city in a close collaboration between administration, science, industry and civil society.

With a pilot project in the field of mobility data and by building legal as well as technical instruments to govern these data sources collectively, The New Hanse wanted to create blueprints for other European cities and explore new concepts for the transformative use of data.

The city of Hamburg thereby became a civic laboratory for more democratic and sustainable futures. The intertwined relation between digital and “analog” urban space, the debates and regulation surrounding both provided a starting point for practical as well as theoretical investigations and interventions.

THE NEW INSTITUTE and Francesca Bria designed this project in order to support the city of Hamburg in becoming the European capital of green digital transformation and tell a different story about the futures of (European) cities.

Cities are accelerators of social differentiation, arenas of displacement, "markets of ideas" as well as places for knowledge exchange, political articulation, and trading. In times of crisis, city alliances have historically formed transnational alliances along common strategic and normative lines.

THE NEW INSTITUTE aimed to create a network of progressive digital cities, starting with Hamburg, and connect the past of urban cooperation with an open future: The New Hanse aimed to start a European initiative to support a future-oriented democracy which keeps and crafts its liberal parameters in the digital age.

The goal of the cooperation between THE NEW INSTITUTE and the Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg was to work together in the context of an Urban Data Challenge and create a blueprint for a democratic exchange of data for Hamburg and other cities in Germany and Europe.

  • How should we regulate the data generated by private companies in public urban spaces? What belongs to whom and what is the role of citizens, the companies and the public?

  • How do we set up the proper incentives for collaboration between actors and ensure a fair impact and a fair share of the externalities and wealth created by those data-based services?

  • How do we establish a form of data governance that preserves the digital sovereignty of citizens - and how should we govern relations between the participating actors transparently and democratically?

  • How to put in place technical solutions, protocols and digital infrastructures that are privacy-enhancing and protect the (data) rights and the digital sovereignty of citizens?

  • Can we find good examples of use of data to face and mitigate the impact of climate change in urban areas?


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