Germany's public authorities need to embrace the digital age definitively. In a European comparison, Germany only ranks 14th on the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) compiled by the European Commission. The Digital Public Services dimension is partly to blame for this. Although many German public authorities put this topic high on their agenda, change processes are slow. Rapid success requires that not only the technical tools must be ready for digital transformation, but also the structural infrastructure. Drees & Sommer advises cities and local authorities on these issues and shows how they can position themselves and their real estate for a viable future.
Citizens want to communicate easily, quickly and securely. This also has an impact on public authorities: organizational structures, processes and buildings must be adapted to the digital working environment. The changes in society's expectations in relation to administration demonstrate that the future of work is not only an important issue for companies. Public administration will also have to change in the coming years. In order to meet the increasing demands of the future and offer modern services, the employees themselves must have adequate working conditions.
German Federal Government Supports Local Authorities in their Digital Transformation Processes
Enhanced quality of services, data exchange or ways of dealing with public authorities online: the path to innovative administration is promoted by the German federal government's implementation strategy for shaping the digital transformation. The aim is to initiate specific measures to ensure that public administration provides greater support to citizens and businesses. Communication and applying for services are to be simplified, for example through electronic accessibility. This requires modern, safe, resource-efficient and energy-efficient buildings with the appropriate facilities. The crucial factor is that an overall strategy is in place, which includes not only the IT infrastructure but also the structural infrastructure.
Berlin Steglitz-Zehlendorf District Office Looks to the Future
The public authorities of Berlin’s Steglitz-Zehlendorf district, for example, have positioned themselves in good time for the future.
The district office commissioned Drees & Sommer to carry out a feasibility study with the aim of developing the most future-proofed solution for the offices of its staff. ‘We intend to expand significantly the service we provide to citizens and position ourselves for the future. Our buildings must also support this objective, ideally also in 30 years' time,’ said district mayor Cerstin Richter-Kotowski. To achieve this, the experts examined variants such as renovation, conversion, new construction or combinations of these approaches. The specifications were to safeguard the present energy efficiency standard, optimize workplaces and make more efficient use of space.
New Construction is the Most Future-Proofed Variant for the District Office
The analysis included both the current occupancy and the workplace requirements calculated for 2022. The experts also assessed the current structural and energy-efficiency condition of the buildings. ‚In our analysis, we examined three variants and evaluated criteria such as investment, relocation and rental costs, as well as energy costs for a period of 30 years. District office staff members also took part in workshops and interviews on the space allocation and function plans,‘ explained Oliver Beck, Associate Partner at Drees & Sommer. What does Zehlendorf town hall need in 2022 to meet the challenges of the future? What role do the topics of digital transformation, e-filing and citizen dialog play, and how does this affect the space allocation and function plans for future space requirements? Asking these and similar questions revealed employees' identification with the new town hall and their attitude to it, as well as initial visions of the new office structure, the future design and ways of working. Taking all factors into consideration, new construction turned out to be the most future-proofed option. This solution meets all the specifications, such as flexible and modern office environments, maximum number of workstations, making more efficient use of space, retaining the number of parking spaces, additional usage options, functionality and the lowest overall costs.