The Culture Data Space: three questions for acatech Managing Director Manfred Rauhmeier
Munich, 17 January 2023
Today sees the curtain rise on the Culture Data Space. acatech, the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT have been entrusted with its development. The project is one of 18 flagship projects in the federal government’s digital strategy – to which acatech will apply its experience from developing the Mobility Data Space. We interviewed acatech Managing Director Manfred Rauhmeier to gain an insight into the idea behind the Culture Data Space.
Why do we need a Culture Data Space?
We are already using and sharing data; huge volumes of data that tell a lot about us. Many people do not know this but we often have little control over who uses our data and how, and what benefit is gained from our data. In the digital age, data are more than ever a key resource for business, science and society. The ability to use, associate and evaluate data is a basis for innovation and economic prosperity, for generating knowledge and for social cohesion in equal measure.
This is why Germany and Europe need data spaces in which people, companies, organisations and public institutions can share data fairly and according to common legal and value systems. We therefore flagged data spaces as central to digital sovereignty back during the coronavirus crisis.
The federal government recognises how enormously important this layer of digitalisation is and adopted it as one of the core objectives of its digital strategy: one target is to have a modern legal framework and a good network of data spaces for the use of data by 2025.
On the back of this mandate and thanks to our positioning as a neutral party between business, science and society, acatech is driving the establishment of data spaces. We have already launched a Mobility Data Space which will serve as a blueprint for further data spaces. The Culture Data Space marks the second important milestone. Mobility connects people physically whereas culture connects us mentally and ideologically as an open society. A Culture Data Space is enormously important for the sovereignty of German and European society in the digital transformation. And for the same reason, the Culture Data Space is one of the 18 flagship projects of the federal government’s digital strategy.
What do acatech and the project partners want to achieve in the Culture Data Space?
What we want to achieve is for culture to benefit from digitalisation to a much greater extent. The Culture Data Space creates the digital infrastructure for the sharing of cultural data where data sovereignty is ensured. Take, for example, the platform OWL live, one of four pilot applications as part of the data space start-up phase. It links cultural event organisers in the East Westphalia-Lippe region and accesses their sources of data in order to automatically gather information on events. The information can then be viewed on the platform: personalised and tailored to the situation. For the culture professionals this reduces the promotional workload, while for culture aficionados events are more visible and easier to access.
The Culture Data Space is also intended to create economic opportunities for culture professionals. An example of this is the new music marketplace that is being developed in Hamburg at the moment as part of the project: it brings together music teachers and students and facilitates digital lessons in real time. Later, further features will be added to the platform – the end goal being a music community at national and international level.
These examples show that the Culture Data Space will create a standalone platform for digital products and offerings for culture – in line with the needs of the workers and enthusiasts in the industry and protecting digital sovereignty. The sovereignty of data owners, copyright owners and service providers has top priority. This means that data and services are not stored centrally. They are merely connected to form a decentralised network and are shared directly between the participating contracting parties. It is important to mention that the proceeds go to the creative artists – this element in particular can be quite different on some commercial platforms.
What are the steps involved in the development of the Culture Data Space?
In the start-up phase that is now under way, the plan is to demonstrate the feasibility, economic relevance and the benefits of the Culture Data Space. The best way to do this is on the basis of use cases. In addition to the aforementioned applications in East Westphalia-Lippe and in Hamburg there are two further pilot projects in conjunction with museums and the Deutscher Bühnenverein. New smart theatre services and digital exhibition concepts are in development. For instance, a number of museums are launching multimedia offerings based on decentralised sources to commemorate the 250th birthday of the artist Caspar David Friedrich in 2024 in a joint project. It offers a totally different insight into Friedrich’s oeuvre, from multimedia to gigapixel, open access to pay-per-view. All of these projects are scheduled to go live gradually over the course of 2023.
The second phase involves evaluation and reflection on the experience before the Culture Data Space digital infrastructure becomes widely available for all creative artists and culture professionals as of the start of 2025.