Measurement of Digital Dependence

Technological dependence became a major concern of the German and European discussions on digitalization. European innovation policies aim at reducing Europe’s “digital sovereignty” by investing in artificial intelligence, semiconductors, and other digital technologies. However, the aspiration to realize digital self-determination requires accurate measurements to assess and compare European vulnerabilities in the technological sector.

Composition of Digital Dependence Index (DDI)

Subindex A: Hardware Subindex B: Software Subindex C: Intellectual Property
Indicator I Trade in ICT goods

Indicator II Information-Infrastructure

Indicator III Trade-in ICT services
Handel mit ICT-Dienstleitungen

Indicator IV Information Infrastructure

Indicator V
ICT-related Patents

  • Computers & peripheral equipment
  • Communication equipment
  • Consumer electronic equipment
  • Electronic components
  • Miscellaneous
  • Smartphone
  • Tablet
  • Telecommunications Services
  • Computer Software
  • IT-Consulting, IT-Design, IT-Management, and IT-Training
  • Licenses to Computer Software
  • Browser
  • Search Engine
  • Desktop OS
  • Betriebssysteme (Smartphone)
  • Social Media
  • Audio-visual technology
  • Telecommunications
  • Digital communication
  • Basic communication processes
  • Computer technology
  • IT methods for management
  • Semiconductors

© Center for Advanced Security, Strategic and Integration Studies (CASSIS), Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn *

The Digital Dependence Index (DDI) measures the dependence level on different technology sectors (e.g., hardware and software) of 23 countries. The primary indicators focus on ICT trade, communication infrastructures, and intellectual property, i.e., patents (see methodology). The level of dependence is scaled from low sensitivity to high vulnerability. This helps to understand the complexity of digital sovereignty and to explore the prospects of reducing digital dependence on foreign countries. This index aims to provide an empirical foundation to develop new strategic digital policies (see working paper). The DDI compares 23 dependence indicators based on three different data sets (see Data sources). The DDI Maps, country profiles, and long-term trends demonstrate important aspects and dimensions of digital dependence. The digital dependence status of countries can be distinguished as follows: DDI scores between 0.5 and 1 indicate being more digital dependent; DDI scores between 0 and 0.5 indicate being less digital dependent, in other words, more autonomous.

Degrees of dependence

DDI value

The relation between domestic and foreign supply

Absolute independence
DDI = 0
Low sensitivity
0 < DDI ≦ 0,25

Autonomy very high. Domestic digital technology is in a dominant position.

High sensitivity
0.25 < DDI < 0.5

Domestic supply delivers majority of digital tech. Considerable level of resilience.

Low vulnerability
0,5 < DDI ≦ 0,75
Global markets supply majority of digital tech.
High vulnerability 
0,75 <DDI < 1
Autonomy very low. Foreign digital technology is in a dominant position.
Absolute dependence 
DDI = 1
Foreign digital technologies fully cover domestic demand.

© Center for Advanced Security, Strategic and Integration Studies (CASSIS), Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn *