Climate protection, education & Co: what the government is planning with its digital strategy

Digital Awakening is a motto of the Traffic Light Government Alliance Coalition Agreement. So far, however, little has happened in this area apart from organizational changes in tasks. The federal government intends to present its digital strategy shortly before the summer break. However, representatives from several relevant government departments gave their first glimpse at the network policy forum of the eco Association of the Internet Industry.

Unlike the digital agenda of the black-red federal government, the departments of the new red-green-yellow edition should name very specific projects “that they themselves can implement within the framework of this legislature”, has explained Benjamin Brake, Head of Digital. and Data Policy Department at the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV). A vision for air taxis in 2050 is therefore not a priority, although there will be a separate chapter for such perspectives. Since the planned digital budget won’t come until next year, projects must initially be independent of it, Brake explained. However, the Ministry of Digital will accompany the implementation and, on the basis of the special budget, will encourage “to tackle something new”.

It should be targeted funding with existing funds, not a broad distribution of funds with the watering can. In general, according to the former IBM man, the BMDV is responsible for developing global digital strategies. Initiatives such as the electronic patient file (ePA) should be given more thought by the various ministries. We do not want to deprive them of responsibility for the cross-cutting issue in their own area.

Legislative projects that affect the extent of digitization, such as the Digital Services Act (DSA), also fall under the BMDV. Concretely, the Volker Wissing house (FDP) could promote data spaces such as the Mobility Data Space. It’s about how companies like Toll Collect, Deutsche Bahn or Autobahn AG could make more data available in protected areas for new business models.

In the case of electronic identity (eID), for example, the main Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) must consider “what could fit into it”. Which open standards apply to data rooms, “which must be cross-regulated”.

Brake announced that the BMDV would initially push international digital policy further at the G7 ministers’ meeting in Düsseldorf in May. Prior to the actual round, Ukraine’s digital minister Mychajlo Fedorov was invited to a meeting. He described requests at the ICANN domain administration level to cut Russia off from the internet as “very dangerous”. The opposition is also organizing online. Moreover, such a “terrible precedent” would only encourage Moscow’s efforts to establish an autonomous Internet.

Franziska Brantner, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK), said that she would like to draw inspiration from the department’s contribution to the digital strategy again in two weeks from pioneering Estonia. Digitization can play a major role in saving energy, but it must itself become significantly more energy efficient. For example, the economy should also have the traffic light coalition claim to make data centers climate neutral by 2027 for itself. The government wants to create a comparability register “so that consumers can make the appropriate decisions”.

In future, the indication of the CO₂ footprint should also offer decision support when purchasing software, the Green Party has hinted. She hopes to make breakthroughs with the European Gaia-X data infrastructure and think about it from the start. Germany and the EU should also get rid of the sometimes 100% dependence on China for raw materials such as lithium, aluminium, copper, silicon and nickel, “of which we need for digitization”.

The corona pandemic-related digitization push “hasn’t really happened yet”, complained federal government IT manager Markus Richter. The administration must finally bring to the fore the construction of the infrastructure for the implementation of the law on online access and also solve the problems of federalism. The multi-cloud strategy, for which “a strong open source stack is now planned”, could help here. The BMI Secretary of State also clarified: “Digitization has nothing to do with computing.”

It is crucial to adapt the processes and not just to introduce videoconferencing in schools, for example. “We want to speed up the school digital pact considerably,” promised Jens Brandenburg, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education. So far, only 50% of the multi-billion dollar funds have been approved, but they are far from ‘settled’.

At a conference this summer, the federal government will discuss with the states the basics of a 2.0 pact and points such as IT administrators, where “real professionals” should work. A national data research infrastructure and a meta-level educational platform as an open and user-centric ecosystem are other points. “We need school clouds that scale and work,” demanded founder Verena Pausder. Officials should “really do digital education”, that is, determine which software is suitable for which grade level and for what purposes it actually serves. Children must become responsible citizens and know “what happens to their data”.

The author criticized that Germans were “so in love with programming”. As soon as an agenda has been decided, “the pride of implementation stops”. The achievement of objectives is not pursued in a transparent manner.

“Measurable indicators for business, administration and society” is what eco CEO Oliver Süme expects from the digital strategy. He referred to the parallel published results of the second edition of eco’s digital policy barometer, for which the opinion research institute Civey interviewed 5,012 representative selected people in Germany. According to this, a large part of the population is dissatisfied with the slow pace of digitization.

Germans see the most urgent need for digital policy action in the areas of digital administration (45%), cybersecurity (42.6%) and digital infrastructure (41.5%). A quarter of respondents said the topic of digital politics would have a major impact on their voting decision in the upcoming regional elections. Participants see the greatest digital competence in the FDP and the Greens. Only one in two people are convinced that digital technology can help overcome major challenges such as climate change.


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