Published 25 October 2013

Big Data & Open Data

– policy initiatives with examples from Asia, Europe and the USA

This report examines policy initiatives in the areas of big data and open data, with exam­ples from India, Japan, Britain, South Korea and the United States. The report is aimed primarily at Swedish government decision-makers. The area is examined mainly from the perspective of economic growth.

The cases show that countries have taken policy initiatives to encourage or facilitate the development and increased use of big and open data. The primary motive behind these initiatives is that big and open data have the potential to contribute to positive outcomes such as increased innovation, economic growth and jobs. Some of the countries are making an effort to position themselves in the field and build a strong national brand.

In some industry sectors there are high expectations of value creation by making better use of big data – this report contains examples including health care, mining, transportation, manufacturing, and energy production.

There is certainly potential for public sector initiated research, to improve the ability to extract knowledge from large and complex data sets. Throughout the country cases there is anticipation that big and open data are to help lower health care costs in society – even as patient data appears as one of the most difficult types of data to make available whilst ensur­ing privacy.

Lack of experts emerges as a challenge from a mid-term perspective. All of the countries have directed efforts to secure the future supply of skills in areas relevant to the increased use of big and open data. Related to the question of competence is a need for skill develop­ment also inside governmental organizations that through new legislation and policy are to begin publishing data in a structured and accessible way.

The countries in the study are investing in infrastructure of various kinds, such as super­computers and data centers, but also the expansion of broadband to allow the transfer of larger data sets. One aspect of infrastructure is also implementation of support programs for start-up companies in the IT sector where companies are offered access to incubators and accelerators. In several of the countries small and medium sized enterprises are seen as key players in taking advantage of the innovation surrounding a better use of big and open data.

Open data in all cases spurs a discussion of privacy, security, ownership and responsibility. There is a range among the countries studied from large conservatism based on existing perhaps outdated law, to following the principle that all data should be published at no extra cost to the user. For countries that are new to a philosophy of open government, neces­sary changes are to be done in the formal legislative but also informative administra­tive culture in order to make sure that data is released to the public.

Lessons-learned from a Swedish perspective are:

•         In the studied countries a ”sense of urgency” in relation to big and open data can be observed and policy initiatives have been implemented.

•         Small and medium sized companies are regarded as key actors for developing and commercializing innovations emerging from the use of big and open data.

•         Sweden has great possibilities to be a leading coun­try within the field of open data, for instance a high degree of digitization, a large and transparent public sector and a high degree of trust among the citizens.


Title
Big Data & Open Data – policy initiatives with examples from Asia, Europe and the USA

Serial number
WP/PM 2013:16

Reference number
2013/289

Download Swedish reportPDF