In Germany, the term “open data” often refers to open government data: data that public administrators make available free of charge and in machine-readable form for others to use as they like. Federal, state and local authorities can publish open data – but they are not the only ones. Business organizations can release some of their data to benefit the common good – even if this has happened only rarely until now.
Civil society could play a pioneering role here. One the one hand, data from government sources could serve as a useful tool allowing civil society organizations to document their need for funding, generate data-driven reports or articles, and identify potential areas of activity. On the other hand, civil society could itself become a provider of data. Non-profit organizations are philanthropic in nature and, by making data freely available, could further contribute to the public good. Yet only a few civil society organizations in Germany currently publish open data.