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Data for Society

Climate change, energy crisis, mobility revolution – creating communities that are sustainable and livable requires solid information. If we want to make sound decisions, we need sufficient amounts of well-prepared data. Our project highlights the importance of (open) data for communities and communal life and dismantles the barriers that prevent us from accessing those data. 

Foto Petra Klug
Petra Klug
Senior Project Manager
Foto Mario Wiedemann
Mario Wiedemann
Senior Project Manager

Data for Society

Societal challenges are complex and call for solutions based on high-quality data. The lack of (open) data means that opportunities for making evidence-driven decisions remain untapped. In our project Data for Society, we raise awareness of the importance that (open) data have for the public good while working to improve access to them.

Data for Society is the successor project to Smart Country (see Project History below). Its goal is to increase the availability of (open) data and expand the potential benefits of those data for various target groups. To achieve this goal, the project’s activities have been grouped into three areas: Wegweiser Kommune (Community Roadmap), Open Data, and Data and Civil Society. Together with the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Data Science Lab, we also contribute our expertise and experience in the contexts of open data, data management and data infrastructure within the Bertelsmann Stiftung itself. 

Project History

“Smart Country – Connected. Intelligent. Digital” was the theme of the 2017 Reinhard Mohn Prize. The prize honors individuals who have distinguished themselves by addressing a socially relevant issue, and in 2017 it was awarded to the former president of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, for helping achieve the digital transformation of Estonia, a digital pioneer. Prior to the award ceremony, the Smart Country team released numerous publications that shed light on the topic of digitalization in the areas of mobility, health and public administration. The project team continued to build on these results, focusing on issues related to digitalization and demographic change in communities until the project came to an end in May 2022. The guiding question was: How can digitalization help overcome the challenges stemming from demographic change and ensure regions remain attractive? Data have always played a key role in this context as a basis for making evidence-driven decisions and for shaping regions so they are livable. The successor project Data for Society expands on its predecessor’s activities by examining how data can be published and used in a way that benefits communities and the common good.

Data for Society

Wegweiser Kommune

Updated annually, our Wegweiser Kommune (Community Roadmap) offers data on a range of topics, such as demographic change, education, employment, integration and sustainability. The public can freely access the data through various interfaces. In the next project cycle, we will also be updating our 2040 population forecast, our nursing-care forecast, and our classification of demographic types. We use the Wegweiser Kommune to increase the transparency of social developments and to support the data-driven implementation and management of community-level processes. Our work with this large-scale data portal has allowed us to gain valuable experience in the publication and use of high-quality data.

Open Data   

In the Open Data project area, one focus is on expanding our Open Data Network for public administrators. We also offer a range of formats, such as online workshops, BarCamps and hackathons, to increase expertise in the area of open data and to transfer know-how. Our Guide to Open Data supports individuals and organizations in making data more freely available in their community. We regularly update the municipal Sample Data Catalogue of open data and further develop its underlying algorithm. As part of an ongoing exchange with the open-data community, we are always looking for ideas and initiatives that can further advance open data in Germany.

Data and Civil Society

Open data from civil society organizations have considerable potential. For example, if data on a particular topic come not only from within a single organization, but from multiple sources, it increases the benefits that can be had from the data as well as the social impact.

A considerable amount of data expertise exists in civil society, but few data are made available by civil society organizations as open data. We want to help close this gap in partnership with other organizations. This topic is being examined in an exploratory project set to run until the end of 2023. 

The Bertelsmann Stiftung invites interested stakeholders from civil society to join us in laying the foundation, so that more (open) data can be made available from civil society and used by it.

If you are interested in exchanging ideas or experiences on the topic of Data for Society, please feel free to contact us! Network with us on Twitter. We will also soon be offering a Data for Society newsletter.