Crisis management planning

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Main actors

City Government

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Project area

Whole City/Administrative Region

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Ongoing since 2012/01

The Berlin Senate Department for Health, Care and Gender Equality ("Senatsverwaltung für Gesundheit, Pflege und Gleichstellung") has developed a model for standardised operational planning for crisis management.

Managing crisis scenarios requires a high degree of coordination and decision-making, as well as cooperation between many stakeholders. These include, but are not limited to, public health department and hospitals, emergency services, law enforcement agencies, politicians, community leaders, NGOs, and the media. Operational crisis management plans should support relevant institutions and organisations in taking the necessary steps to contain and successfully manage emergencies. In 2012, the Berlin Senate Department for Health, Care and Gender Equality introduced a standardized model for operational crisis management planning – one that can be transferred to various crisis scenarios.

Originally published by the International Community of Practice for Sustainable Urban Development CONNECTIVE CITIES:

Sustainable Development Goals

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Berlin, Germany

Size and population development
The population registered for the municipality of Berlin in 2017 was 3,613,500, making it the second most populous city in the European Union. The larger metropolitan area has around 5 million people living in 1,347 square kilometres, giving it a population density of around 15,000 people per square kilometre—similar to Mexico City or Tokyo.

Population composition
It has been estimated that up to 30 percent of Berlin’ s population are of foreign origin. The foreigners originate from other parts of Europe—such as Serbia, Croatia, Poland, Russia, Spain, Bosnian, Bulgarian, and Italian—as well as from countries outside of Europe, such as Turkey, Palestine, Iran, Syria, Egypt and Ghana. The largest non-native population comes from Turkey; in the year of 2010, there were more than 100,000 Turkish registered as inhabitants of Berlin.

Main functions
Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany, as well as one of the nation’s 16 states. It is situated approximately 112 miles (180 km) south of the Baltic Sea and lies in the wide glacial valley of the Spree River, which runs through the centre of the city. The city extends over an area of 891.7 square kilometres and stands at an average altitude of 34 meters above sea level. After the reunification of the two Berlins in 1990, Germany began a process to centralize the capital to Berlin (replacing Bonn, the former capital of West Germany). Since then, Berlin is the place where the German House of Representatives and the German Bundestag hold elections. However, it wasn’t until 2001 that the Bundestag and the government of Berlin were fully established under the same roof. Berlin is also a city of great cultural significance, which is evident if one considers the amount of historical landmarks that tie the city’s history to its multiple overlapping pasts. Some of the most important landmarks include the Holocaust memorial (inaugurated in 2003), remnants of the Berlin Wall (taken down on the 9th of November 1989), the Reichstag Building (which dates to 1884). As the capital of Germany, Europe’s most populous and economically powerful country, Berlin is also the centre of, culture, politics, media and science in the country and serves as a European hub for air and rail traffic.

Main industries / business
As the 4th largest economy of the world, Germany participates of a wide array of industries with a famous efficiency. In Berlin one may find strong state-owned enterprises, like the Deustche Bahn (the railway), which employs the largest amount of general population (more than 20,000 people). Other companies that thrive in Berlin are: the Deustche Post (DHL), the technology company Siemens, the automotive manufacturer BMW, and the telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom. Hence, one may assume that Berlin specializes in the secondary and tertiary sectors of economy. Tourism brings more than 135 million visitors to the city (which include day-time visitors as well as overnight ones). Apart from other student cities in Germany like Köln and Munich, Berlin houses some of the most well-reputed universities in the world: the Freire Universität Berlin and the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, with more than 30,000 students each.

Sources for city budget
Berlin draws its budget for public expenditure largely from taxes, transfers received, fees, fines, and operating revenues. This money is federally approved and spent in such a way that it can also be used in the form of funding for companies, not only to comply with the provision of quality public services.

Political structure
Berlin serves both as a city with a local government and as capital of Germany. In regard to the latter, it houses the Bundesregierung (Federal government), the Bundestag (Federal parliament) and the Bundesrat (the States’ chamber of Parliament). Each of the 16 states of Germany has representation in Berlin. It is governed by the Berlin Senate which is comprised of 10 senators and the Governing Mayor. Also, the embassies of other countries from around the world are housed in the city. The 16 states (Laender) have a similar standing to the federal government in respect to most issues.

Administrative structure
Berlin is administrated by the Senate and its 12 districts or boroughs. The Senate is the city’s central administration, in charge of city planning, public policy, and regulation of public and private spheres. The district administrations decentralize some public functions, with reasonable difference between the various localities.

Protecting public health in biological emergencies is one of the most urgent tasks faced by cities today. Primarily, this involves fighting infectious diseases, pandemics and highly contagious, life-threatening illnesses. Infectious diseases that have been virtually or entirely unknown pose a particular challenge for the medical profession and other relevant stakeholders for public health protection. Experts assume the number of such infectious diseases will increase over time. Moreover, countries located geographically close to military crises must be prepared for possible bioterrorist attacks.

Experts from various fields of public health protection agree that the successful management of biological emergencies will be largely dependent on standardised operational planning.

The Berlin Senate Department for Health, Care and Gender Equality has developed a standardised crisis planning model to address these emergences. The objective of this project is to establish the model in other local authorities and federal states of Germany, and to promote its adoption with city governments world-wide. 

The Lead agency for the project is the Berlin Senate Department for Health, Care and Gender Equality. The model for standardized operational planning for crisis management has been discussed and agreed upon by all relevant  stakeholders. The plan is based on five different scenarios for biological emergencies. It distinguishes between individual cases of illness, local epidemics, regional epidemics, pandemics, and so-called suspected hazardous substances.

The plan is supported by the web-based portal DiDaKat: This enables all stakeholders involved in managing a crisis to obtain updated information in real-time, coordinating and maximising their efforts while protecting personal and confidential information.

The key element of the plan is a set of standardised terms and definitions. The plan was developed by applying a modular basis that ensures it can be transferred to any field of public health protection, regardless of the particular biological emergency. The web-based portal enables the various stake holders to network their plans, and provides them access to a shared pool of data. This can be used by both public authorities (at local, regional and national levels), and other organisations and institutions involved. It also creates the possibility of establishing links in other thematic areas relevant to crisis situations, such as water supply. 

Applying standardised terms and definitions to operational planning makes the quality of information more reliable and ensures optimal management of the resources available. The generic structure increases transparency for all stakeholders at local and national level. Subsequently this leads to overall growth in the professional management of acute emergencies, and builds capacities for responding to new challenges. 



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Connective Cities
Bonn, Germany

Connective Cities

Institution | International Community of Practice for Sustainable Urban Develop­ment

Detlef Cwojdzinski
Berlin, Germany

Detlef Cwojdzinski

Individual | Katastrophenschutzreferent

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