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How free data can transform innovation

Originally posted on The Horizons Tracker.

There appears to be a clear divide emerging around the attitude towards the data that fuels our digital economy.  The American approach sees ownership of this data rest primarily with corporations, whereas the Chinese approach strives for the state to own the bulk of data generated in the Middle Kingdom.  The EU’s recently published data strategy promises to free up data entirely.

“Citizens should be empowered to make better decisions based on insights gleaned from nonpersonal data,” the strategy says. “And that data should be available to all – whether public or private, big or small, start-up or giant.”

The aim is to develop an internal market for data that will directly rival the vast repositories harvested by Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Netflix and Google, who currently control around 80% of the data in Europe.

Industrial data

This monopoly on data has largely arisen due to the huge success of the companies mobile and social platforms, but as the Internet of Things spreads, the amount of data generated will mushroom, with most of the data generated being stored at the edge rather than in vast data centers.

The European Commission plan to create a number of data spaces for specific industries however, such as agriculture and healthcare, with the latter something I’ve advocated for many years.

“Strengthening and extending the use and re-use of health data is critical for innovation in the healthcare sector,” the strategy says. “It also helps healthcare authorities to take evidence-based decisions to improve the accessibility, effectiveness and sustainability of the healthcare systems.”

They describe that while citizens already have the right to control their health data and take it with them where they please, the implementation has been patchy. The new data strategy aims to overcome those hurdles and create a data architecture more befitting the preventative healthcare possible when data is used more effectively in the sector.

Labor data

It’s also interesting that the Commission wishes to create a data environment for labor-related data, with the aim being to reduce shortages (and surpluses) across the European labor market.

“In a global race for talent, the European education and training systems and labour markets need to quickly adapt to new and emerging skills needs,” the strategy says. “This requires high-quality data on qualifications, learning opportunities, jobs and the skill sets of people.”

The availability of data promises to have a huge impact, not only on the operational aspects of each sector, but on their ability to innovate.  It marks a clear attempt by the EU to move away from the data hegemony of the tech giants and create a data environment that’s more equitable.

Obviously a strategy document is a long way from a successful implementation, but it will be interesting to see just what the Commission are able to do, and the impact it will have on life in the EU.

Article source: How Free Data Can Transform Innovation.

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Adi Gaskell

I'm an old school liberal with a love of self organizing systems. I hold a masters degree in IT, specializing in artificial intelligence and enjoy exploring the edge of organizational behavior. I specialize in finding the many great things that are happening in the world, and helping organizations apply these changes to their own environments. I also blog for some of the biggest sites in the industry, including Forbes, Social Business News, Social Media Today and, whilst also covering the latest trends in the social business world on my own website. I have also delivered talks on the subject for the likes of the NUJ, the Guardian, Stevenage Bioscience and CMI, whilst also appearing on shows such as BBC Radio 5 Live and Calgary Today.

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