Interlab Rhenanum

The Interlab

Interlab Rhenanum is an intersectoral and cross-border network for the promotion of open systems in digitization and open innovation in public administration in the border region of Upper Rhine. It creates participation among the sectors and sees itself as an open government laboratory.

The Laboratory promotes greater openness in shaping digitisation according to European values and general cooperation between administration, citizenship, science and business. It promotes the principles of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), in which both France and Germany participate and where Germany currently has a seat on the steering committee. Further (indirect) objectives are the identification of regulatory obstacles in cross-border cooperation and in everyday life as well as the preparation of the Eurodistrict Strasbourg-Ortenau for a possible participation in the OGP within its Local Programme. Digital cooperation must also be strengthened beyond Europe's internal borders, especially in vital border regions where crossing borders is everyday life and borders form more a connection than an seperation. Where borders are so the interfaces of Europe.

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The main activities include the exchange of experience and knowledge as well as project initiatives among actors from the French and German sides of the Rhine - for example on Open Data and Open Source Software. The volunteer network emerged from a focus group of the workshop and initiation project "Digital Border Region Upper Rhine" (DGO) of the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region, funded by the state of Baden-Württemberg within the Walter-Hallstein-Program, which was co-initiated by the Interlab-Rhenanum initiators in 2018.

The Interlab Rhenanum has been continued independently in order to expand the valuable cross-border network of competences with the above-mentioned focus in a sustainable way and to further concretise and implement the project ideas gained in the workshops.

The name Interlab Rhenanum is derived from the French institution "Etalab" of the interministerial directorate for the digital and governmental information and communication system of the French government and the Latin word Rhenum for the border river Rhine. Interlab Rhenanum is an initiative of Oliver Rack, chairman of the German association "Politics for Tomorrow c/o nextlearning e.V." and member of the strategy board of Open Government Network Germany and Harmonie Vo Viet Anh, chairman of the French association "Hackstub".

Why is the cross-border Interlab Rhenanum important?

Digital cooperation, e.g. in terms of participation and engagement, requires supportive and open basic structures, basic technologies and knowledge resources as a foundation and "common ground" as well as an "operating system" for a prosperous and sovereign interaction - just like any other structures of statehood. The degree of self-determination of the individual and the community and the processes and solutions produced are based to a large extent on these. Data and information, as wear-free divisible resources for evidence, knowledge and digital life support, are among these foundations of the community, especially if they are publicly financed. Such Open Data help to further develop the World Wide Web of unstructured information into the World Wide Web of structured information for the benefit of society and to expand data sovereignty and the possibilities of participation and engagement. Where would we be in terms of civilisation without open systems, without open knowledge? Where would the Internet and World Wide Web be without open standards and open solutions? In the globally networked digital world, we cannot afford structures within territorial boundaries any more to secure self-determination. They make less and less sense. In the digital space, the need for territorial sovereignty is increasingly being replaced by the need for functional, technological sovereignty, the "European way". In the spotlight (including funding initiatives) however are often the processes and solutions based on structures, but less so the structures themselves. More focus and support is needed here.

The "European way" in the creation of these structures meets the reality of life of citizens, businesses, administration and science, the concrete benefits, most directly in the cross-border areas of Europe's internal borders. Because of its central location with vital European internal borders, Germany (in perspective of a Germany’s Council Presidency) and France in particular have an opportunity and responsibility to think about open systems such as Open Data in a European dimension.

The European Observation Network for Territorial Development and Cohesion has identified considerable shortcomings in the data available on cross-border regional development, even in border regions with high growth potential.

Political requirements already rigged up

The European Commission has already laid important foundations with the Directive on Open Data and the re-use of Public Sector Information (EU) 2019/1024 , the High Value Data Regulation and the ISA2 programmes, and even will further strengthen them.

With regard to data and open data on cross-border regional development, the European Commission's Directorate-General for Regional Policy and Urban Development and the European Spatial and Urban Development Unit at the BBSR of Germany’s Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning are currently also doing important preparatory work. Important foundations have already been laid by the Aachen Treaty and the "Hambach Declaration on Franco-German Cooperation in the Border Regions" of 6 April 2017 by representatives of neighbouring local authorities and the Commissioner for Franco-German Cooperation. Corresponding cross-border pilot projects already exist in the High Rhine-Lake Constance, Upper Rhine and Lower Rhine border regions and the greater Germany-Netherlands region. The Directive and Open Data also represent general opportunities with regard to the "mechanism for overcoming legal and administrative obstacles in a cross-border context" in the context of the EU's new Multiannual Financial Framework from 2021 to 2027. In addition, on 1 January 2021, the two French departments of Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin will form a separate bilingual (French, German) territorial entity, the Collectivité européenne d'Alsace (CEA), whose main purpose is cross-border cooperation.

Interlab Rhenanum - Dataunion

On the occasion of Digital Day 2020, Interlab Rhenanum is organizing the lecture and workshop event "Dataunion" based on a collaborative database as an online platform. Inter-sectoral actors, especially from public administration and citizenship, from both sides of the European internal border will meet.

The aim is to exchange experiences on applications, legal norms and standards relating to Open Data and to jointly catalogue and semantically compare data and to cross-reference these applications and political fields of action in the sense of a cross-benefit check. The subject of the work is aligned to Northrhine Westfalia’s “sample data catalogue”, an initiative of the German national data portal GovData, the openNRW department of the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of Economics and the Bertelsmann Foundation.

Thematically, reference is made to data requirements for a common crisis resilience, the indicators for measuring the UN sustainability goals as well as the current development of the High Value Data List by the European Commission.

In addition, a stakeholder mapping on Open Data will be carried out. The event will be kicked off by various keynote speeches on the progress made in Germany and France and the status of the respective legal norms at Open Data. Dataunion is organised by the German organisation "Politics for Tomorrow c/o nextlearning e.V." and the French organisation "Hackstub" as part of Interlab Rhenanum.

Presentations 19.6.2020

  • Open Data and Open Government - Status quo Germany / France as well as presentation of sample data catalogue / X-contexts cross referencing; Harmonie Vo Viet Anh, board member of "Hackstub", Oliver Rack board member of "Politics for Tomorrow c/o nextlearning e.V." and member of the strategy group of the Open Government Network Germany


  • Cross-border Smart Government at Lake Constance; Karsten Krumm; Smart Government Academy Lake Constance, Smart City Representative of the City of Friedrichshafen (CONFIRMED)
    • The Smart Government Academy Bodensee networks cross-border experiences and knowledge in order to jointly use current opportunities and challenges of tomorrow's smart administration. The project was founded by nine cities and municipalities from Germany, Austria and Switzerland as well as four universities. It is financially supported by the Interreg V programme.


  • Open Data in Strasbourg; Olivier Banaszak; Head of the Department of Geomatics and Spatial Observation at the Eurométropole Strasbourg (CONFIRMED)


  • Open Government and Open Data in Karslruhe; Sven Klenert; Office for Information Technology and Digitisation Central Applications, City of Karlsruhe (CONFIRMED)
    • In addition to budget data, the data offered so far on the transparency portal of the city of Karlsruhe covers a wide range of aspects of city life: byside the usual statistics on the population, there are, for example, election data, public transport timetable data of the KVV, drinking water values of the municipal utilities and the measured values of the municipal weather station. The city of Karlsruhe is very conscious of the fact that it is important to enrich administrative thinking with open government and thus with new perspectives from outside. That is why external data users are therefore an essential part of the Open Data ecosystem, even beyond the German-French border. Karlsruhe is currently expanding its digital innovation laboratory in the city hall, the DigitalLab. It will then offer even more space for new digital services and innovations.


  • Presentation by Etalab of the interministerial directorate for the digital and governmental information and communication system of the French government; Bastien Guerry, Free Software Referent (CONFIRMED)
    • Etalab is a department of the interministerial directorate for the digital and government information and communication system of the French government (DINUM). In particular, it coordinates the design and implementation of the government's data strategy, such as the policy of openness and the exchange of open data. It coordinates the actions of public administrations and offers them support to facilitate the dissemination and reuse of their public information and operates the open data platform data.gouv.fr. Etalab also contributes to facilitating the dissemination and exchange of data between administrations themselves.


  • Establishment of a territorial monitoring system for border regions; Claire Duvernet; Coordinator for the project "Establishment of a territorial monitoring system for border regions" at the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR) (CONFIRMED)
    • This project aims to concretise the results of MORO to create the basis for a territorial monitoring system for adjacent areas. After the previous exploratory networking of institutes and institutions of the Federal Government, the Länder and the regions - including the trinational metropolitan region of the Upper Rhine - a network for cross-border territorial monitoring is now to be established and the methodological basis defined to enable continuous reporting beyond a start-up period. To this end, the information basis is to be improved in cooperation with the statistical institutions of the Länder. The topics that were defined as priorities in the previous project (commuters, services, labour market, etc.) are the main focus here.


  • Use case: Metropolitan Atlas of the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region; Heinrich Lorei; Project Manager Metropolitan Atlas, Digitisation and E-Government, Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region (CONFIRMED)


Interlab Rhenanum is co-initiated by
Member of
Interlab Rhenanum is co-initiated

Hackstub Strasbourg



The language interpretation during conference is co-funded by
We are part of it #Wirsinddabei and digital together #digitalmiteinander with the workshop-conference #Dataunion at #Digitaltag20