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Home / Projects / Open Government

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Amt für Digitales und Informationsverarbeitung
Kirchheimer Weg 4, Gebäude 103
69124 Heidelberg
Phone + 49 6221 58-11120

A tree is growing out of a book. There are many signs flying around it. (Foto: Chinnapong/shutterstock)

Open (Government) Data

For greater innovation and transparency

By publishing administrative data, the aim of federal, state and local government across Germany is to ensure greater innovation, transparency and service. The City of Heidelberg is also developing an appropriate open data strategy.

Open data is the term for freely available data from public sources that can be used and re-used by everyone, in compliance with legislation on data protection and confidentiality requirements. The idea behind this is to use open data to facilitate development of a new administrative structure. State and administration will become more transparent and service-oriented by proactively providing machine-readable data and thus enabling local people to participate more in their deliberations and decision-making. The data may include budget figures or council information, for example, but also data on population, transport, education, finance and security.

“Route planning for people with restricted mobility”:

For people who are restricted in their mobility, a raised curbstone or the absence of a lift can pose insurmountable problems on a journey across town. A new project in Heidelberg entitled “Route planning for people with restricted mobility” enables smartphone users to plan their route across the city from A to B. The initiative is built on open data gathered by volunteers and combined for the project with systematic and comprehensive data provided by City Hall. The project is a successful example of open data at work.

Making official data freely available

In signing the G8 Open Data Charter in 2013, Germany gave a commitment to make official data available as open data. In late 2016, Germany also signed up to the global Open Government Partnership network, and in so doing confirmed its resolve to implement open government. The issue is now gaining increasing importance at federal, state and municipal level. Whereas previously citizens had to explain why they required information, the Freedom of Information Act for the State Baden-Württemberg now reverses that principle: The authorities are essentially “open”. In cases where citizens are refused certain information, the authorities are required to provide the reasons.

Heidelberg is developing strategies for open data

The City of Heidelberg also has a positive attitude to the issue of open government and is currently preparing strategies to make additional open administrative data available. This is not simply about replacing traditional municipal publications with open data, however. Rather, these machine-readable data will offer an additional perspective on familiar topics. Open data can be used, for example, to create interactive graphics, maps or even new internet applications. Much of the data in question is already available in the city administration – the task now is to provide systematic access and find ways to exploit it. This could involve the creation of a municipal portal, for example. Alternatively, the city could use the open data platform of the State of Baden-Württemberg to make data available.