Social Spatial Science Research Data Infrastructure

Team: Stefan Müller, Felix Bensmann
Leader: Dr. Benjamin Zapilko
Scientific unit: Knowledge Technologies for the Social Sciences (WTS), Data Archive for the Social Sciences (DAS)


The ongoing increase of environmental challenges and issues, such as urbanisation, accompanied by urban sprawl and soil sealing, loss of biodiversity, global warming and water shortage, raise the pressing need to be able to better understand the correlations between human activities and environmental change. In this context, a new field of research has evolved focusing on the notion of environmental justice, which comprises health and well-being aspects, as well as topics related to general social participation. While this research has already been discussed in interplay with politics and civil rights organisations in countries like the USA, it is only in recent years that it has become visible as part of inequality studies in Germany.

There are a number of reasons why the needed, but still missing, integrated use of social science survey data and spatial science data is still missing: (1) the interdisciplinary nature of the data, caused by the underling infrastructures, (2) legal restrictions, especially regarding data privacy, and (3) methodological challenges regarding the use of geo-information systems for the processing and analysis of such data, especially by social scientists. The ‘Social Spatial Science Research Data Infrastructure (SoRa)’ proposal aims to develop solutions for addressing precisely these three problems.

The objective of the project is to build spatial (IÖR) and social (GESIS, SOEP) science research data infrastructures and to extend them in order to enable interoperability and data integration, as well as conformity to international standards. The flexible analysis of research data, coming from different data sources, is enabled by innovative analysis tools (KIT) referred to as Cognitive Apps. The analysis approach is based on the hypothesis that interdisciplinary research is supported by the interoperability of research infrastructures, since only in this way are we able to conduct studies based on data coming from different domains. In SoRa, this will be investigated based on specific research questions regarding environmental justice.

The research data, integrated within the project, will be made available in conformity with data protection requirements. Similarly, the developed and optimized infrastructures will be sustainably exposed In addition, the flexible, modular and open technical architecture will be questions “by design” reusable and adaptable to further research data infrastructures and research. The usability and transferability of the project results will be ensured via initial user tests.


Further information can be found at


01.03.2017 - 28.02.2020

Sponsored by


  • IÖR – Leibniz-Institut für ökologische Raumentwicklung
  • KIT – Karlsruher Institut für Technologie
  • SOEP - Sozio-Oekonomisches Panel