The term "Quarter" or why a definition is so important for DUCAH - Interview with Prof. Wolfgang Hünnekens

"The foundation simply has to be properly established. This is the only way that we at DUCAH can all start from the same circumstances," was the objective of my colleague Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Schildhauer for the DUCAH Forum in Berlin. The cooperative members at the DUCAH Forum complied with the wish of our Scientific Director. Because it is important that the more than 20 DUCAH members start from the same basic premises, for example in the development of the "Better Living Quarters" (BLQ). In various workshops, we therefore worked out the key data first for the quarter and thus defined them for DUCAH:
A "Quarter" is a place in which the relevant actors act and live according to common values in a space that is limited for itself in a social space-oriented way.
The format at our DUCAH Forum has proven its worth. Here we brought together many experts from a wide range of "trades" and disciplines. With good success, some of the participating DUCAH cooperative members from the social economy have introduced the term "social space-oriented work" into the discussion. And not without reason, social space-oriented work is a developed perspective in which different theoretical and methodological perspectives are used and further developed. This above all under the preservation of the basic principles of the Sozialraumorientierung (SOR) after Wolfgang Hinte:

  1. Orientation towards the will of the people (according to W. Budde and F. Früchtel)
  2. Activating work before caring activities, i.e. the (digital) empowerment of all actors in the quarter
  3. Goals that can be achieved under one's own steam, using human and socio-spatial resources: surveying needs and resources in the quarter
  4. Working across target groups and departments
  5. Networking and cooperation of different services (according to R. Fürst and W. Hinte)
  6. Life-worlds: subject-centered and life-space-related recognizing and promoting (according to G. Theunissen)

The new definition makes the neighborhood concept more manageable and clearer for us at DUCAH. We have laid a foundation for the better-living quarters. This is because different spatial perspectives play an important role here as well, such as whether the quarter is located in a rural or urban setting. In any case, the aim of DUCAH is to integrate and think together with different actors - especially with regard to the coexistence of young and old in the quarter. Also important is the idea that a specific purpose is fulfilled, such as the desired "living better for longer". Spaces without purpose are only districts, the participants agreed. The quarter, however, is like a community, a spatially defined space for intergenerational living. Even more: quarters are living spaces and not just social spaces - they are actually "living spaces that can be experienced".

The goal at DUCAH

Our goal at DUCAH: By adding a digital component and sustainability thinking, the quarter becomes a "Better Living Quarter". Supported by transsectoral, i.e. cross-sectoral and cooperative exchange, DUCAH continuously surveys needs and resources of the network. What's more, by adopting a people-centered approach and involving all stakeholders, DUCAH is paving the way for the digital empowerment of stakeholders in the quarters, or more precisely: in the Better Living Quarters!

Now the question arises: Which parameters will be important for the quarter and especially for the BLQ in the future? Three questions in particular are crucial for the future:

1. how do we create a space that prepares for the digital transformation in connection with "living better for longer in the quarter"?

2. how do we design technology, infrastructure and data in the better-living quarter?

3. which perspectives (innovation provider, DUCAH network, care facility, science) are there with regard to certain parameters?

The Quarter - Technology, Data and Infrastructure

However, not only theoretical considerations played a role in our workshops, but also very practical prerequisites for a successful quarter. The basic prerequisite for a quarter in the sense of DUCAH is a stable running technology. It is astonishing that one still has to think about this issue in Germany, but it simply seems to be a problem in many areas after all. For example, a reliable, technical infrastructure also includes a high-performance WLAN. Ideally, the WLAN should be available everywhere and cover the house, rooms and other neighborhoods. Only in this way is it possible to really work with digital devices in practice. Especially with your own devices, in line with the "bring your own device" principle. This in turn requires apps that function on the devices, i.e., software-based solutions. And last but not least, we need to think about lending/meeting stations for users of digital devices. For us, one circumstance is particularly important: The so-called "digital divide" must be broken down - a distinction must no longer be made between people who are already able to use digital devices successfully, but all older people must be enabled to do so. One solution put forward by the forum participants is a collaboration or neighborhood platform. This is where exchange and communication are possible, where appointments and events are coordinated - a kind of digital bulletin board. To this end, a robust data strategy should be developed and commercially available data made available - including a sensible data usage concept. And, of course, DSGVO-compliant.

Quarter and other Stakeholders

As already noted, an important point is the neighborhood platform. It is intended as a platform for relatives and customers, for the use of digital reward systems and, last but not least, for the networking of residents.

Incidentally, the concept for the concierge platform, which was already developed in the DUCAH concept phase, goes in this direction and can be used by all stakeholders in a manner that transcends the organization. Last but not least, the multigenerational idea and interaction formats play an important role: Here, the focus should be on empowerment and activation. Finally, however, the needs and requirements should also be recorded - especially with regard to technology. Ideally, the residents are the source of ideas here - because this is, of course, in line with the people-centered approach at DUCAH. In order to ensure and, above all, to achieve the desired quality, appropriate further training programs and controls are indispensable.

The Quarter of the Future - Collaboration and Innovation instead of Ivory Towers

Collaboration and innovation, i.e. the joint development of ideas, take on a special significance at DUCAH. That is why we at DUCAH do not want to develop solutions for people in an ivory tower, but together with those affected. Our goal is to work together at eye level, to focus on needs and, last but not least, to include important cornerstones in the innovation processes. This means that end users must also be involved in design processes at an early stage, for example. For this successful and innovative collaboration, a target group-oriented format makes sense.

DUCAH offers the appropriate framework for this: With us, scientists come together with people from the real world. In this way, "wicked problems", i.e. identified urgent problems, are worked on cooperatively with problem solvers with an affinity for technology. The aim of DUCAH is to use resources in a sustainable and targeted manner to enable everyone to "live better for longer".

Prof. Wolfgang Hünnekens is an Honorary Professor of Digital Communication at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK), author of books on social media, digital transformation and "working differently", and Chairman of DUCAH eG.