Blockers and Enablers for a European Data Flow
Last week Vienna hosted the 2nd edition of the European Big Data Value Forum (EBDVF), hosted by the Federal Ministry for Transport, Infrastructure, and Technology, under the auspices of the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. On the first day, Nov 12th, Dr. Mihai Lupu, Director of Studio Data Science organised, together with Austrian Partners (Martin Kaltenböck of the Semantic Web Company and Robert Ginthör of the KNOW-Center) a session entitled „European Data Flow“. Its objective: providing a forum where participants at the EBDVF could discuss the need for, the blockers, and the enables of a European Data Flow.
The sessions started with three short presentations, covering three aspects: Technology, data, and regulations. First, Dr. Mihai Lupu briefly presented the Data Market Austria Project – a lighthouse project of the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), which addresses the technical, business, societal, and legal issues surrounding such a data market in the Austria context. Following that, Prof. Stefanie Lindstaedt (TU Graz and KNOW-Center) talked about principles of FAIR data: data that is Findable, Accessible,Interoperable, and Reusable. The series of short presentations was concluded by Yvo Volman, Head of Unit G1 (Data Policy and Innovation) at DG CONNECT of the European Commission presented the efforts of the Commission in encouraging a data flow in Europe.
After that, the organisers invited Prof. Peter A. Bruck, CEO of Research Studios Austria to moderate a panel discussion on the topic. Members of the panel were representatives of academia, industry, and regulatory bodies:
- Martin Semberger, Chair Public Sector Information Directive (PSI), Austrian Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs
- Prof. Stefanie Lindstaedt
- Thomas Hahn, Corporate Technology Siemens
- Andre Golliez, Swiss Data Alliance
- Ron Dekker Director at CESSDA, the Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives
- Yvo Volman, Head of unit, European Commission, DG CONNECT, Unit G1 – Data policy and innovation
Prof. Bruck started right to the point and asked each member of the panel to identify three blockers to the European Data Flow. Here, the panellists identified a daunting list of blockers, which we can group also by focus:
- Data heterogeneity
- Unavailability of tools
- Missing legal base
- Legal base that mandates data physically residing in specific geographic locations
- Culture and pressure on administration, scientists, and industry
- Silos-focused mindset
- Lack of media interest for open data
- New risks generated by data exposure (notably IP)
- Lack of short-term incentives
The panellists were then invited to suggest action points that can start addressing these problems. Among the answers there were some clear trends: We should for instance build on the existing initiatives, and connect existing resources in order to demonstrate benefit and build showcases. Here, the European Open Science Cloud and the Data Market Austria came to the forefront. Another consensus was found around the topic of training, creating awareness, education: we need more of that in order to eliminate the fear of the unknown and thus enable collaboration to build trust. In terms of regulation, there was also agreement that progress is being made, particularly in the case of the Public Sector Information (PSI) Directive, but that at this point, in such a novel field regulation must be first the subject of discussion with all stakeholders.