Commission urges governments to embrace potential of Big Data

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Data collection and exploitation is a growing phenomenon; in response to industry and grassroots demands the European Commission is today calling on national governments to wake-up to this “big data” revolution.

Vice President said "It’s about time we focus on the positive aspects of big data. Big data sounds negative and scary, and for the most part it isn’t. Leaders need to embrace big data.”

The main problems identified in public consultations on big data are:

  1. Lack of cross-border coordination

  2. Insufficient infrastructure and funding opportunities

  3. A shortage of data experts and related skills

  4. Fragmented and overly complex legal environment

Main concrete actions proposed today to solve these problems:

  1. A Big Data public-private partnership that funds “game-changing” big data ideas, in areas such as personalised medicine and food logistics.

  2. Create an open data incubator (within the Horizon 2020 framework), to help SMEs set up supply chains based on data and use cloud computing more.

  3. Propose new rules on "data ownership" and liability of data provision for data gathered via Internet of Things (Machine to Machine communication)

  4. Mapping of data standards, identifying potential gaps

  5. Establish a series of Supercomputing Centres of Excellence to increase number of skilled data workers in Europe

  6. Create network of data processing facilities in different Member States

Actions the Commission will scale-up or continue

  1. - Expanding investment in 5G technology (already €700m committed to a public-private partnership) through international agreements such as June agreement between European Commission and South Korea

  2. - Grand Coalition for Digital jobs, and Opening Up Education initiative to plug skills gap

  3. - Best practice guidelines for public authorities and open data


Every single minute, the world generates 1.7 million billion bytes of data, equal to 360,000 DVDs: over 6 megabytes of data for each person every day. As a result, the data sector is growing by 40% per year, 7 times quicker than the overall information and communications market, and big data is already helping us speed up diagnosis of brain injuries, find the perfect spot for wind farms , avoid traffic congestion, or forecast crop yields in developing countries. Global big data technology and services will grow to USD 16.9 billion in 2015 and data will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs in Europe. Businesses that build their decision-making processes on knowledge generated from data see a 5‑6% increase of productivity.

In order to help EU citizens and businesses more quickly to reap the full potential of data, the Commission will be working with Parliament and Council on the successful completion of the reform of the EU's data protection rules and final adoption of the Directive on network and information security to ensure the high level of trust fundamental for a thriving data-driven economy.

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