About DiDaT

Digital Data as Subject of Transdisciplinary Processes (DiDaT)

Transdisciplinary Project to Investigate the Unintended Side Effects of Digitalisation

Digitalisation is changing our lives and bringing fundamental change to many domains, including both benefits and unwanted side effects. The challenge for sustainability research is to anticipate and identify the "unintended side effects" (so-called 'unseens') of the digital transition and to develop strategies that enable societies to cope with them properly


“This project will deliver more than just research: DiDaT is a transdisciplinary project that integrates practical and scientific knowledge. The aim is to provide society with guidance for dealing with digital data in a responsible way,” explains Roland Scholz, professor at the Danube University Krems and IASS Affiliate Scholar. Scholz is leading the project together with IASS Scientific Director Ortwin Renn.

In a first step, the project participants have identified the most important opportunities of digitalisation, but also the risks, which have received too little attention to date. They intend to explore these so-called vulnerabilities in seven working groups:

  1. Mobility: Digitalisation and networking are changing technologies for vehicles and infrastructure and giving rise to new market structures. What parameters and incentives could help to reconcile social, economic and ecological objectives in the digitalisation of the transport sector? How could a national database for digital infrastructure support digital mobility?
  2. Health: Patients have a lot to gain from digitalisation and improved data access. But what negative effects can digitalisation have on the health system and how can they be avoided?
  3. Small- and medium-sized businesses: Small and medium-sized businesses often have less access to data than large companies that collect, use and provide data for a fee. How can small- and medium-sized businesses hold their own against large corporations in the digital working world? What measures and innovations are advisable here and what areas should they target?
  4. Agriculture: Digitalisation has already made considerable inroads in the farming sector, where it holds great promise, but also harbours risks, for example when digitalisation strategies are focussed exclusively on large-scale farm operators. How can negative impacts on the environment and workers be avoided?
  5. Social media and values: In a relatively short time, social media have had a huge influence on communications, marketing, and democratic processes. They guide people’s actions and affect their well-being. As well as examining the positive and negative effects of Internet use in various areas, the working group will focus on the consequences of “personalised information” for communications, also from the point of view of the importance for democracy of keeping society’s channels for communication open.
  6. Trustworthiness of information in the digital sphere: The wide availability of tools to falsify information and the increasing transfer of our communications into the digital sphere are calling conventional forms of social coexistence into question. What technological and behavioural innovations are conducive to a fact-based societal, scientific and political discourse?
  7. Cybercrime/cybersecurity: The use of digital systems can facilitate criminal acts or make them possible in the first place. It therefore presents a growing threat to public safety and order. Are existing legal and organisational parameters adequate to preparing society for the challenges of digitalisation?

The project participants will prepare a white paper by the middle of next year, whose contents will be discussed with many different stakeholders. In addition to important analyses, the paper will propose innovative solutions for dealing with data in a responsible way. The aim of the extended consultation process is to embed the results in practice and encourage follow-up initiatives, projects and processes.

Prof. Dr. Dr. Ortwin Renn
Executive Scientific Director
+49 331 28822 463
Prof. Dr. Roland Scholz
Scientific project manager DiDaT

Important documents

Broschüren / Brochures

DiDaT Brochure in German / in English
Short brochure
German (03/20) / in English (03/20)

Konzeptpapiere zum Weißbuch /
Concept papers for the white book

Konzeptskizzen zu den Vulnerabilitätsräumen German
Booklet der Grobpläne German
Booklet der Feinpläne zur 2. Stakeholderkonferenz German
SMEs, digitalization and digital data (English)


DiDaT-Newsletter 01
in German / in English
DiDaT-Newsletter 02
in German / in English
DiDaT-Newsletter 03
in German / in English
DiDaT-Newsletter 04
in German / in English
DiDaT-Newsletter 05
(DiDaT Letter) in German

2. DiDaT Stakeholder Conference


The main concern of the DiDaT project is to develop responsible handling of digital data in a transdisciplinary process. At the 2nd DiDaT Stakeholder Conference, around 100 representatives from science and practice will discuss, among other things, the detailed plans for the seven DiDaT vulnerability areas, the in-depth research that is important for the main phase of the project, and the appropriateness of the staffing of the scientist and practitioner bank.

In addition, the first orientations for responsible handling of digital data are presented, which are worked out and justified in the main phase and represent the core of the White Paper. Furthermore, members of the DiDaT Steering Board will give opinions on the deficits to be worked on in some vulnerability areas and first thoughts on an alignment of the main message of DiDaT.

Copyright IASS DiDaT 2022. All Rights Reserved.