In Germany, e-government and open data remain largely untapped potential despite holding enormous economic opportunities and being a basic prerequisite for smarter cities, according to a recent study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. EURACTIV Germany reports.
According to the study published on 9 July, Germany is lagging far behind in the field of digital government. It ranked 24th out of 29 countries surveyed, behind Chile, Colombia and Brazil. In the field of the data-driven public sector, Germany came in last and recorded the lowest value among OECD countries.
In recent weeks, however, the German government has already taken initiatives to catch up by adopting the Open Data Strategy and amending the E-government Act, both of which pay greater attention to opening up public sector data.
“Free access to and the broad use of data form an important pillar for the digitalisation of administration, business and civil society,” Marc Danneberg from the digital association Bitkom told EURACTIV.
“The goal must be a modern and open data ecosystem that promotes social and technical innovations in Germany and Europe,” Danneberg added.
Open data’s potential
Data is considered the currency of the future and forms the basis for value chains in Industry 4.0, which denotes ongoing automation and data exchange, as well as smart cities. With the public sector being one of the most data-intensive sectors, the availability of its data to the private sector holds great economic potential.
According to a European Commission report, the Open Data market in the EU could double by 2025, rising to as much as €334.2 billion.
Open data could also have a positive impact on the labour market. For example, the Commission’s study assesses the data economy could create up to 883,000 new jobs across Europe. The provision of public sector data is also one of the basic prerequisites for the development of future-oriented services in the smart city.
“Open Data enables digitisation in the public sector for more efficient processes by better managing administration and providing digital government services,” Oliver Süme, CEO of the internet industry association eco, told EURACTIV.
According to a study conducted by eco, Germany’s smart city market will grow continuously to €84.7 billion by 2026 and thus more than double.
Smart cities not only enable the development of innovative business models but also play an essential role in location policy as the growth of the smart cities market is expected to attract investment by giants and to foster the creation of innovative and future-oriented start-ups.
Open Data Act and Strategy
In its data strategy published in January, the German government had already set itself the goal of making the state a pioneer in digitalisation with the aim of unleashing the economic potential of the public sector.
With the adoption of the EU-based Data Use Law in February and the amendment of the E-Government Law in June, Germany has come one step closer to this goal.
On top of that, the cabinet adopted its Open Data Strategy on 6 July, which sets the main objectives for the next few years. It represents “another important step towards stabilising initiatives for the provision of open data by the federal administration,” Bitkom’s Danneberg added.
However, the Open Data Strategy still leaves some issues unanswered.
Both digital associations – Bitkom and eco – told EURACTIV that the strategy is still lacking a clear commitment to establishing a legal claim of private actors to access data of the public sector.
Such a legal claim would be necessary to truly exploit the innovation and investment potential of open data.
German legislators are hoping for a major leap forward from the Data Act currently being negotiated at the EU level, which will further advance the economic exploitation of data and, in particular, include data sharing in the business-to-business and business-to-government sectors.
During a Bundestag debate, Social Democrat MP Elvan Korkmaz-Emre said the new EU Data Act would give a new impetus “for a greater step towards the future.”
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic and Luca Bertuzzi]