Gütersloh , Germany

A Community Roadmap: the Wegweiser Kommune

June 11, 2009

Making data work for local communities committed to strategic integration planning

How does a city know if their integration efforts are being successful?

While anecdotal evidence and observation is useful, it is often not enough when it comes to planning and implementing policy and programming. For instance, what if a city needs or wants to know the percentage of children with migration backgrounds that are attending the local kindergarten in order to effectively track these numbers and decide whether the existing efforts are successful or if they need to be adapted?

Developing strategically planned and successful integration policies requires up-to-date, accessible data that maps a city’s population to reliable social and economic indicators of well-being. Yet demographic data in this area is often poorly maintained, incomplete, inconsistent or inaccessible. How can city planners and community actors measure their progress or learn from one another without access to standardized data in easy to use formats?

With these concerns and questions in mind, the Bertelsmann Stiftung partnered with the state of North Rhine-Westphalia’s Ministry of Integration (MGFFI) and the GEBIT Institute in Münster to create an on-line database which provides data on community level integration and allows German cities to answer these and other demographic and data related questions.

This project known as, “Wegweiser Kommune” covers approximately 85% of the German population and has become the first ever nationwide resource with data, projections and ideas at the municipal level. The site provides users with current data and facts about immigrant integration as well as analysis of the effects that these demographic developments are having. This data is available for all cities and municipalities in Germany that have 5,000 or more residents.

While the project was intended for municipal policy and management decision makers, it is also an open public resource, freely available to other interested municipal stakeholders and citizens.

The impact of having this data available is significant. It allows for an equitable and objective comparison of municipalities which in turn allows local governments and other actors to assess what policies are working, which need to be changed and as a result of the increased transparency between regions – which ideas or initiatives can and should be duplicated.


Wegweiser Kommune is an interactive platform that allows complex contents to be searched and viewed in a variety of media compatible and interactive forms.

Data, studies and ideas on municipal issues such as demographic change, economics and employment, housing, social status and integration can all be interactively displayed and examined from an interdisciplinary perspective.

For instance, a user can choose a municipality and find out the number of foreign students graduates living there that tare taking the Abitur (the university entrance qualifications examination) as compared to the total number of graduates. This data can then be compared with data from the district, the state and up to 5 other municipalities. The result of this comparison can indicate whether there is a need for action in that area. A similar approach can also be used to compare data related to “job integration” and “social status.”

If the figures from other cities and districts are better, then best practice examples from those cities can be used for guidance. The result? through the Wegweiser Kommune, hard data can be used to provide key learnings from other cities and to prompt the implementation of improved integration strategies and measures.

The Wegweiser also provides population projections for 2025, individual demographic reports as well as action plans that can be generated dynamically using flexible criteria.

The strength of the Wegweiser Kommune is that the data is defined by consistency, clarity, practicality and relevancy.


Since its launch in 2006, Wegweiser Kommune has received over 1 million visitors. It is considered the key knowledge platform for policy decision makers and strategic planners and recognized as an essential tool in actively supporting sustainable municipal policies –on the cutting edge of modern social knowledge management.

Cities may have always used statistical information as powerful tools for planning and knowledge management, but projects like the Wegweiser Kommune are demonstrating creative ways in which such data can be put to use for social change and competitive advantage. Other cities are also examining how open data initiatives or social mapping exercises can be leveraged to support better integration and social policy.

Harvey Low, from the City of Toronto’s Social Policy and Analysis & Research Section, comments, “We are in the midst of releasing an information portal that will help both municipal government and community sector organizations use data to map critical social indicators to specific questions and issues and will allow us to examine the effectiveness of our social inclusion strategy.” Low also points out that data liberation projects like these also level the playing field and foster collaboration and a more unified multi-sector approach to tackling city issues like poverty.

Making it Work for You:

  • Presenting and organizing data so that it is accessible and can be practically used to support and create policies
  • Think about the various ways good statistical data can support your work. Where do you go for reliable data when you receive a media request? For a board presentation? For a funding proposal?
  • Measuring outcomes is as important as planning for them. Benchmark your starting position, compare your position to a comparable city or organization and then report on the potential impact of your services over time.

For this Good Idea contact:

Claudia Walther
Bertelsmann Stiftung, Programm Kommunen und Regionen
Carl-Bertelsmann-Straße 256
33311 Gütersloh, Germany,
T: 0049-5241-81 81 360
E: claudia.walther(at)

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