A person working with a coffee with the mobile device Copyright: © Martin Braun



Innovations of Digital Platform Systems to Form our Occupational, Ethical, Legal and Social Future


Key Info

Basic Information

01.01.2019 to 28.02.2021
Research Area:
Sociotechnical Systems and Human-Machine Interfaces

Further Information



Christopher Brandl

Chief Engineer


+49 241 80-99474




The INDIZ project aims to empirically identify, prioritize, and clearly elaborate the ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) – which should also explicitly include the work science and sociological aspects – of digital platform systems and to derive design recommendations to compensate for undesirable effects.


Building your own business model on an existing digital platform appears to be a desirable concept because of the large number of successful role models that have evolved into so-called “global players”. It is therefore not surprising that many new companies or start-ups choose this business model and add a few innovative aspects in order to have a hybrid value creation business. Platform-based work does however pose new technological, organizational, ethical, legal and social challenges for business and politics, as well as for society as a whole, none of which have been subject to very much research to date. In addition, there is the difficulty that employees, as a group, are hardly included in the currently prevailing discourse. A discussion that focuses on the needs and wants of the employees of platform operators and startups proves difficult. However, in order to be able to have a discussion that includes the needs of the people working there and provide solutions to the challenges and risks for all stakeholders at an early stage, we need more targeted scientific research.


The aim of the project is to identify, prioritize and clearly process ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) of digital platform systems by means of empirical studies, which should also include aspects of ergonomics and sociology. This will be used to develop design recommendations and action strategies. Research questions to be answered include: What priority do ELSI aspects have with regard to their necessary consideration in research and innovation development projects? How could digital platform systems develop further in the near and distant future and create framework conditions for “good jobs”? What impact do digital platforms have on ordinary citizens?


The project is to investigate both existing, past and possible future innovation trends for digital platform systems. To ensure this, innovation trends will be investigated using interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary survey methods and all relevant stakeholders will be involved. The theories used are AMICAI as an adapted approach of technical failure and impact analysis and the toolboxes technology forecasting, foresight and technology assessment. By implementing the methods of work science into the toolboxes of future and innovation research, an applicability will be ensured beyond the end of the project.


The results of INDIZ are intended to address social and political issues of digital platform systems, the relevance of which will increase in the future. They are intended to help various subsectors, such as politics, business, and the broader society in the form of citizens, to react to the current developments in this area at the earliest stage possible. At the same time, the economic potential of digital platforms is to be made usable for these social subgroups as well as for companies and start-ups. Specifically, the results of the analyses will be prepared in a comprehensible way for research as well as for start-ups and companies so that the results can be included in their specific activities. At the same time, the action guidelines created in the project will help to avoid undesirable effects of digital platform systems.

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The INDIZ project (funding code: 16ITA206) is part of the BMBF's “Forschung und Innovation” (Research and Innovation) funding program. The project management organization is VDI/VDE Innovation und Technik GmbH.

Project Partners
Institute of Sociology, RWTH Aachen University
Innovation und Entrepreneurship (WIN), RWTH Aachen University