Project News

tobias-reich-_2bHXTz3j-E-unsplash_bearb_Aus_ST-LK.jpg(© Tobias Reich / Unsplash – Unsplash License,

Open Data in Communities: Communities want to make more open data available, but see obstacles

A growing number of Germany’s cities and towns are already making open data available to the public. Together with Difu, the German institute for urban affairs, we conducted a survey to identify which opportunities and challenges German communities associate with open data.

Lab4Land_Impressionen_2.jpeg(© Imke Dressler)

Smart Country: Lab4Land: Supporting start-ups in rural areas

September 7 marked the beginning of the Lab4Land accelerator, the first program in Germany specifically designed to support start-up founders in rural areas. Lab4Land wants to move the start-up scene forward in rural regions throughout Germany, making it more appealing for young people to live and work in non-urban areas. SmartCountry is supporting the lab in the town of Schöppenstedt east of Hannover.

andreas-dress-hell-unsplash_Musterdatenkatalog_ST-LK.jpg(© Andreas Dress / Unsplash – Unsplash License,

Open Data: Sample data catalogue provides first-ever overview of open data in communities

Population growth, free parking spots, drinking water quality: Many of the digital pioneers among Germany’s cities publish local-level information as “open data.” A new sample data catalogue provides, for the first time, an overview of data that German communities are making available to the public. As an initial step, the online catalogue offers information on cities and towns in the state of North Rhine–Westphalia.

OpenDataWorkshop3_ST-LK.jpg(© © Nathan Coyle)

Open-Data-Workshop: Which advantages do open data offer nonprofit organizations?

On September 5, the Smart Country project partnered with the city of Münster to organize a workshop on the topic of open data. Participants collaborated to identify the potential that local-level open data offer nonprofit organizations.

AdobeStock_140714758_KONZERN_ST-LK.jpeg(© © -

Study: Digital skills will be more important

What level of digital competency do people in Germany have? A representative survey carried out on behalf of the Bertelsmann Stiftung shows there’s still a considerable need for support – especially among the older Generation.

Pexels_electronics-hands-smartphone-141362.jpg(© kote baeza / pexels – Pexels License,

Publication: Sample Data Catalogue: Which open data are Germany’s communities making accessible?

A number of cities and towns in the state of North Rhine–Westphalia are leading the way in Germany in the area of open data. They have been publishing their data for a number of years. Until now, however, no overview has been available of which information is released as open data by Germany’s communities. A sample data catalogue can shed light on this situation. A prototype for North Rhine–Westphalia is now available.

chart-coffee-cup-970204_ST-LK.jpg(© / pexels – Pexels License,

Event: How do we promote open data in municipalities?

Under the title "Promoting Open Data in Municipalities," our project Smart Country together with the GovData coordination office at the Hamburg Senate Chancellery invited more than 20 representatives of the open data community (from municipalities, civil society, academia) to a workshop in Cologne on 18 September.

Digitales Landleben_Saal_fuellt_sich_ST-LK.jpg(© Bertelsmann Stiftung)

Event: Successful examples of digital rural life presented in Kiel

How can public authorities and the people living in towns and villages benefit from digitization? What can they do now to get ready for the future? From an app for switching on street lighting to the creation of a rural "co-village," numerous digital pioneers from local government and community organizations presented effective ideas on September 10, 2018 in Kiel at an event organized by the Smart Country project and the Heinrich Böll Foundation. 

startup-849805.jpg(© StartupStockPhotos / - CC0, Public Domain)

Study: Regional paths to the digital future

Where do Germany's municipalities stand and what do they need in order to counter digitization? These were the questions posed by a study conducted last year by Technische Universität (TU) Dortmund on behalf of the Bertelsmann Stiftung as part of the Reinhard Mohn Prize. It provides a database for developing regional digitization strategies capable of responding to the ongoing megatrend of digitization.

CivTech_Demo_Day_Titelbild_ST-LK.jpg(© © Bertelsmann Stiftung)

CivTech in Edinburgh: Introducing innovation and creativity to the public sector – Scotland leads the way

Public administrators do not have the reputation of responding to problems with particularly innovative solutions. Yet if you look at the complex challenges they face because of issues such as demographic change and digital transformation, new approaches are not only desirable, they’re crucial. As the CivTech program in Scotland shows, problems can be solved when public sector organizations join forces with innovative start-ups.

RMP_2017_IMF_0706_LM_BM_Ilves_KUOe.jpg(© Kai Uwe Oesterhelweg)

Reinhard Mohn Prize: The Reinhard Mohn Prize 2017 – The award year in review

Better quality of life, opportunities for development, and local participation through digitalization – the Reinhard Mohn Prize 2017 addressed the challenges of the 21st century. Intelligent technology and networks should foster social inclusion, while ensuring living conditions in rural regions equivalent to those in cities.

RMP_2017_IMF_0706_LM_BM_Ilves.jpg(© Kai Uwe Oesterhelweg)

Award: Toomas Hendrik Ilves receives Reinhard Mohn Prize 2017

On June 29 in Gütersloh the 2017 Reinhard Mohn Prize on the forward-looking topic "Smart Country – Connected. Intelligent. Digital." was awarded to former Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves. He was honored for his pioneering work in promoting digitalization in government, education and public services.

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Research Trip: How Israel has become a start-up nation

Since its founding in 1948, Israel’s economic and technological development has been impressive. Despite having only 8.4 million inhabitants, the country has become a major high-tech player. When it comes to cyber security, Israel is home to more than 300 companies, making it a global leader in this area as well. And Tel Aviv and Silicon Wadi are considered one of the world’s most important and vibrant ecosystems for start-ups.

Pixabay_skansen-454521.jpg_ST-LK(© Mariamichelle/ - CC0, Public Domain,

Research Trip: Sweden: On the way to a digital future

Sweden is one of the countries leading the way when it comes to digitalization. It has implemented a national digital strategy and is expanding its high-speed fiber-optic network. These efforts have given it a more than ten-year advantage over other countries – Germany, for example – when it comes to adopting digital technologies. Our video shows the success factors that have made Sweden a digital leader.

pixabay_wien-400930.jpg_ST-LK(© Usinglight/ - CC0, Public Domain,

Research Trip: Future-ready urban planning in Smart City Vienna

In many respects, Austria is setting the standards when it comes to digitization. Vienna, the capital, is considered one of Europe’s pioneers in this area. Its residents benefit from numerous digital solutions which are easily accessible and can be used by anyone. The public is included in the overall digitization process and urban planning. We had a look on site to find out why Austria’s digitization efforts have been so successful.

160704__MG_3042.jpg_JV_Expertenworkshop_Smart_Country(© Jan Voth)

Event: How Is Germany Going More Digital?

Experts discuss Germany’s digital future at the second expert commission round as part of the Reinhard Mohn Prize 2017.

Pixabay_tallinn-2112816.jpg_ST-LK(© sayama / - CC0, Public Domain,

Research Trip: Estonia: The Country in the Cloud

Estonia is considered a pioneer in the area of digitization. People there benefit from a wide range of digital solutions – solutions that are easily accessible and can be used by anyone. We had a look at how things are done on site. Why has digitization in Estonia been so successful? Here’s your chance to find out – by getting to know a country in the cloud.

Jelena_Rudi_1240x600px (002).jpg(© Jelena Rudi Photography)

Award: Toomas Hendrik Ilves receives the Reinhard Mohn Prize 2017

This year's Reinhard Mohn Prize "Smart Country: Connected. Intelligent. Digital." will go to Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the former President of Estonia. We award him the prize in honor of his pioneering work on the promotion of digitalization in government, education and public services. Ilves will be awarded the prize worth €200,000 at a ceremony in Gütersloh on June 29.

Pixabay_vienna-228943_heller.jpg_ST-IFT(© luckysilver1/, etwas erhellt - CC0, Public Domain,

Research: Open Government – Austria shows what’s possible

In recent years, Austria has repeatedly been crowned “European Champion” when it comes to e-government. Within the country, the city of Vienna has taken on a pioneering role. Thanks to a forward-looking connectivity strategy between Vienna and federal institutions, the city’s initiative is having an impact even beyond its borders – putting it far ahead of Germany.

Tallinn_Ueberblick.JPG(© Archiv Bertelsmann Stiftung)

Research: Digital laboratory e-Estonia: A success story

Digitalization is a key issue for politics and society. Many people are therefore looking to Estonia, which has been home to technological innovations, digital pioneers and best practices for years. As the research carried out in Tallinn for the 2017 Reinhard Mohn Prize shows: Thinking and acting digitally pays off – which is why Estonia has become a digital success story.

Stockholm.JPG(© Archiv Bertelsmann Stiftung)

Research: Sweden’s Digitalization Strategy – A Model for Germany?

Digitalization is a trending topic, but one that is often fraught with dystopian views. Not so in Sweden, where, as part of our research for the Reinhard Mohn Prize 2017, talks with those at the cutting edge of digitalization revealed what great opportunities digitalization has to offer.

Pixabay_ipad-632394_1920.jpg_ST-LK(© FirmBee / - CC0, Public Domain,

Mobility and Logistics: What Does Mobility of the Future Look Like?

Digital technologies are changing the face of mobility concepts: The connection between cities and rural areas—and the connections within cities and rural areas—need a rethink. This applies to individual mobility at home and at work, and needs to include the sustainable provision of goods and services.

Autobahn_01.JPG_ST-LK(© Bertelsmann Stiftung)

Commuter Flows—Wennigsen: Wennigsen—A “Smart” residential area of Hanover

Some 85% of all employees from Wenningsen/Deister commute and work in other municipalities: Ideal parameters for digitalization to work.

160704__MG_3024.jpg_JV_Expertenworkshop_Smart_Country(© Jan Voth)

Event: Experts discuss digitalization and the opportunities it brings

What does Smart Country mean in practical terms – and what must Germany do to become one? The recent expert workshop on Smart Country examined this question and others.

jv_160531__MG_4907.jpg_Smart_Country_ST-LK(© Jan Voth)

Metropolitan Solutions 2016 : Smart Country—Participation for Everyone

In 2016, Metropolitan Solutions in Berlin asked: How do cities get smart? We shifted the perspective a little and instead asked how a bridge towards a Smart Country can be built. Intelligent technology and networks are key to ensuring citizen participation and equal living circumstances in both cities and rural areas. We conducted a workshop to kick off the discussion.

METROPOLTIAN SOLUTIONS, 31.05.2016: Smart Country—Participation for Everyone!?

Intelligent technology as a means of facilitating participation for everyone, and ensuring equal standards of living in both urban and rural areas. How can we accomplish digital bridge building?

Hand Tastatur(© Thomas Kunsch)

April 8 to 10, 2016, Open Data: Hack Day in Moers – Reloaded

If something works, reuse it: 2nd Hack day in Moers with Bertelsmann Stiftung—experiences working with open data

shutterstock_179296106_Premier.jpg_ST-LK(© Shutterstock / Andrey_Popov)

Smart Country: Learning and Information

Access to information along with the capacity to organize this access are key to participation in our society. Not everyone has the chance to benefit from this opportunity.

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Smart Country: Mobility and Logistics

Both home and work places need to be accessible both in physical and digital terms. Mobility in both regards is increasingly lacking. Logistics concepts are no longer up-to-date.

Achenbach_Digitalisierung_07-0543.jpg_ST-LK(© Valeska Achenbach)

Smart Country: Policy and public administration

Policy and public administration are especially needed in shaping the move to digital. This will only work if changes are made to the negotiating and decision-making processes, where greater transparency and participation is needed. Integrating modern information and communication technology can help here. And many people are aware of this.

shutterstock_302650592_Premier.jpg_ST-LK(© Shutterstock / ChiccoDodiFC)

Smart Country: Work and the Economy

Two megatrends—demographic change and digitization—are particularly apparent in the world of work. Substantial changes are particularly evident in this field. So as not to miss out, the on-site situation must be adapted to suit these new ways of working and the value they create. What exactly is changing, and how can we make this transition work?

shutterstock_100658932_Premier.jpg_ST-LK(© Shutterstock / Stepan Kapl)

Smart Country: Health and Care

Access to sufficient medical and care services is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain across the whole country. It is particularly important to consider this issue in the context of a rapidly ageing population.

20170527_Voth__MG_4304_web_Smart_Country_ST-LK.jpg(© Jan Voth)

Local. Digital. Connected.: Smart Country

Communities are facing major challenges – above all demographic change and digitization. We want to support local authorities in seeing digital transformation as an opportunity. How can it help to master demographic change and keep regions attractive?

Server 2000(© Schrewe, Ina)

Broadband Provision: A Public Services Issue : The Digital Region—A Great Place to Live With a Promising Future

The third Bayern broadband forum entitled "The digital region" took place on November 5, 2015 in the Neusäß town hall near Augsburg.