Barcamp 2023

High-value datasets as open data: Pressure mounts on Germany’s municipalities

On October 24, some 100 participants from German-speaking countries took part in the 12th meeting of the Open-Data Network, which was held online via Zoom. The meeting’s main topic was the current EU directive on making high-value datasets available as open data.


Foto Mario Wiedemann
Mario Wiedemann
Senior Project Manager
Foto Petra Beckhoff
Petra Beckhoff
Project Assistant


After the “Implementing Regulation … laying down a list of specific high-value datasets” entered into force last December in accordance with the European Commission’s Directive (EU) 2019/1024, public authorities are now obliged to make datasets with “particular potential to generate socio-economic benefits” available free of charge and under a free license. There is a transitional period, which gives public administrators until June 24, 2024 to implement the directive. But what challenges does this pose for municipalities?

Legal aspects of high-value datasets

The first speaker at the Open-Data Network meeting was Katrin Fierhauser. She is a legal advisor to the city of Bruchsal in the state of Baden-Württemberg. In her presentation, she explained the directive in detail and discussed the related legal aspects.

High-value data are divided into six categories:

  • Geospatial
  • Earth observation and environment
  • Meteorological
  • Statistics
  • Companies and company ownership
  • Mobility

The data should be made available in machine-readable form a via interfaces, and they should be published using a license that allows for unrestricted re-use. Fierhauser emphasized that the EU directive is “remarkably brief” but includes an annex that is highly complex. She then explained the detailed tables used to classify high-value datasets.

She subsequently addressed the various obligations that public administrators face, but which cannot be ascertained with certainty from the information in the directive. “We find ourselves in legal terrain that has yet to be completely clarified,” she said. In any event, municipalities have a wide-ranging responsibility to maintain the data and make them accessible in machine-readable form. Moreover, some questions remain unanswered, above all about the different naming conventions for high-value datasets and open data published voluntarily on existing portals, and about how to deal with identical datasets at different administrative levels.

Presentation given by Katrin Fierhauser

Implementation of high-value datasets at the municipal level

The second speaker, Sven Klenert, shed light on the situation from the perspective of the municipalities. Klenert is a member of the city of Karlsruhe’s Strategy and Smart City team, and open data is one of the areas he is responsible for. He noted that smaller communities could run into considerable difficulties since they often do not have their own data portals and interfaces. In addition, they might not be able to appoint dedicated contact persons, who must be designated in keeping with the EU directive.

There are also concerns about the financial burden that results from making data available under a free license. Klenert emphasized how important it is to ensure that the obligation to release high-value datasets does not interfere with other efforts to publish open data. The goal is “open data by default,” he said. “What counts is that high-value datasets do not get in the way of communities publishing open data voluntarily.” At the end of his presentation, he suggested introducing national implementation guidelines, since all cities and towns face the same task and some are overwhelmed by it. The suggestion was very well received during the subsequent discussion. Some participants, however, noted that it might not be possible to implement such comprehensive guidelines given the limited amount of time before the transitional period ends.

Overall, it’s clear that the directive leaves some room for maneuver. Yet there are no uniform guidelines for implementation at the federal level, Klenert said, and that means public administrators in Germany are feeling uncertain, since they are unable to make out any simple procedure for meeting the requirements.

Katrin Fierhauser said she hoped that the country’s municipalities would receive uniform answers to the open questions in the coming months.

Presentation given by Sven Klenert

In Brief: Open Data Portal for Bavaria and MobiData BW Barcamp

Following the main topic discussed by the two speakers, Luis Moßburger from the agency byte (he appeared in the fourth issue of our project newsletter as “DatenKOPF des Monats”) presented the current version of the Open Data Portal for Bavaria. In addition to traditional geodata and statistics, the portal also contains research data, including from the Technical University of Munich (TUM).

Finally, Marlene Picha from the MobiData BW team at Baden-Württemberg’s public transport authority spoke about the MobiData BW Barcamp in Stuttgart, which will be held a second time on November 8, 2023 after a successful first round last year.

Background info on municipal Open-Data Network meeting

The municipal Open-Data Network meeting is jointly organized by the Bertelsmann Stiftung and the German Institute of Urban Affairs (Deutsches Institut für Urbanistk – Difu). The digital venue is designed especially for individuals and organizations involved in public administration. At the beginning of the event, participants have the opportunity to get to know each other during a speed-networking session. Speakers then talk for approximately 15 minutes each, presenting information and ideas based on their own experience. Afterwards, there is plenty of time for questions and discussion.      

If you would like to participate in one of the coming Open-Data Network events, you can register to do so here.

This summary of the Open-Data Network meeting was written by Frederick Schindlegger, who is doing an internship with the Data for Society team.