Germany a trailblazer for innovations
What role does data play in our everyday life?
Every day we realise again how important data is in our everyday life, as we make innovative use of that data. We use GPS on our mobile phone, for instance, so that an app can find us the quickest route from A to B. Our local authorities could use this traffic data to plan roads in a way that will prevent tailbacks and enhance air quality and thus the quality of life.
What does data mean for the private sector and for science and research?
Particularly now in the face of the pandemic we can see how important data is for science and research and for the private sector. Data helps us better understand the virus, and that enables us to fight it more effectively. Research scientists like the two founders of BioNTech, for instance, were only able to develop their vaccine thanks to data sharing and the innovative use of data. Data enables industry to adapt their production to the pandemic and protect employees.
What are the challenges?
We are constantly facing new challenges in terms of data protection and data security. The German government intends to address these and other questions. If, for instance, individual companies gather too much data exclusively for their own use, it can jeopardise competition and thus block innovation.
What is the goal of the Data Strategy of the German Federal Government?
"This Data Strategy aims to ensure that we, as a society, harness the opportunities offered by data. We hope that we can thus not only leverage potential for adding value, but can improve the lives of everyone," declared Helge Braun, Head of the Federal Chancellery, when the Data Strategy was presented on Wednesday.
With over 240 measures, the Data Strategy aims to make Germany a trailblazer in the innovative use of data and data sharing in Europe. The German government produced the strategy on the basis of a broad-based participatory process which included an online survey of more than 1,200 respondents.
With the help of the Data Strategy measures, the German government intends to enforce European values, the common principles of data protection and sovereignty in an age of global data transfers and networking, and make this a global example to follow. "The Data Strategy means hands-on action," stressed Dorothee Bär, Federal Government Commissioner for Digitalisation.
What areas of action does the Strategy cover?
One thing is clear – the German government can only take the road to a data-driven society with the support of the science and research community, the private sector and civil society. The Data Strategy thus identifies four major fields of action, which require all actors to play their part.
- Making data infrastructure effective and sustainable
The initial focus is on measures that are to lay the foundations for a modern data-driven society, such as infrastructure measures. This includes quantum and high performance computing projects but also the Gaia-X project.
The Data Strategy also lists projects that generate a vibrant ecosystem, for instance data rooms for health, where several actors from the fields of science and research and the private sector can collaborate in a secure and confidential context. One example is the first nationwide cancer register which brings together data from the individual Länder or federal states.
- Enhancing the innovative and responsible use of data
This is about putting in place a framework to ensure that more data can be used and shared responsibly and sustainably, while also preventing any misuse of data. To this end, the German government intends to create more legal certainty, launch innovative data rooms and, through data custodians for instance, make possible new types of cooperation. In addition to the huge opportunities offered by the innovative use of data, it is also important here to counter the political, societal and individual consequences of any misuse of data.
- Developing data competency and establishing a data culture
Another goal of the Data Strategy is to significantly enhance the data competency of the population as a whole, the private sector and the science and research community. "Data competency is a crucially important issue. We must have people with all the skills. That is why we intend to make use of this year, 2021, to make progress in the field of digital education," explained Helge Braun, Head of the Federal Chancellery. The spotlight will be on "handling data". The right decisions can only be made if we are fully aware of the facts of the matter.
- Making the state a trailblazer
Last but not least, the administration itself needs to reorganise so that it can deliver quality digital services to modern citizens. The state data infrastructure must be put on a sustainable footing and the data competency of civil servants enhanced. More public data, more transparent work practices and citizen-friendly services are the goals. This will entail establishing data labs within federal ministries as service units for the private sector, the science and research community and citizens.
Here is the Data Strategy of the German Federal Government – an innovation strategy for social progress and sustainable growth.