In 2017, the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg launched DIPAS (Digital Participation System), a research and development project, with the aim to develop an integrated, media-break-free digital system for citizen participation in urban planning and development. Now DIPAS is being developed by the Stadtwerkstatt in the State-Ministry of Urban Development and Housing in cooperation with the State-Agency for Geoinformation and Surveying and the CityScienceLab of the HafenCity University Hamburg.

The structure and functionality of the tool are based on the reference architecture for online participation of the German IT Planning Council. This geodata-based application enables citizens to submit online comments, suggestions, questions and criticism on the city’s plans. With the help of an administrator back-end, the contributions can be evaluated by administrative staff using various statistical methods and in near future with AI-based tools.

The second core element of DIPAS is the digital tools for participation events. Through the use of digital data tables, publicly-accessible urban geo-data, collected in the urban data platform, as well as the cities’ 3D model is made available onsite at citizens’ events. The preparation of complex material, e.g. in the form of digital development plans, 3D urban design proposals in a user-friendly presentation, promotes the exchange between laypersons and experts at eye level. In addition, the touch tables can be used to call up the citizen contributions submitted online at face-to-face events and to discuss and further develop them in a dialogue between citizens.

The three-year project is structured in several development phases. The aim of the first phase was to create an operational basic level, which offers 2D maps and urban data online and onsite, combined with the synchronous feedback functionality. This MVP was produced until the summer of 2018 and tested in a participation process for the Hamburg district of Bergedorf.

The Source Code DIPAS of the DIPAS Software will be published as Open Source Software after a Launch and Transfer Conference to be held in autumn. Broad deployment within Hamburg will start in 2021. Other cities and institutions in Germany and neighbouring countries have also expressed their interest to adopt the system, including Leipzig, Vienna, Guadalajara (Mexico) and the DEGES.

A follow-up project (2021-2023), parallel to the implementation and transfer of the 1.0 version, will be set up to further improve the system’s functionalities.