Why is data sharing important?

Currently closed data is considered to have a major role to play in contributing to the European data economy, which is projected to be worth €739bn by 2020.1 This is why building a European data economy is one of the strategic goals of the European Commission, which named data driven innovation as “a key enabler of growth and jobs in Europe.”2

With the increased use of Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), the value and role of data as an asset has increased as well. These new technologies can help to tackle many modern social challenges, but are dependent on the availability of large amounts of data. While a multitude of open data is freely available, this is often of limited quality, unstructured, or inconsistent3.

Many solutions require types of data which are held within organisations, and not intended for public consumption. This data could be privately held data that is of public interest, such as transaction data from mobile telecom operators, sensor data from personal communication devices or from smart electricity consumption4 meters (sometimes known as ‘business to government’ or ‘b2g’ data sharing).5

It could be privately held data that could be of economic interest, and used by skilled technology companies to develop innovative new products, services and markets. In this way the European Commission envisages private sector data as a key driver of innovation and competitiveness in Europe.6 Similarly, the OECD considers data sharing as “an effective means through which the social and economic value of data can be maximised.”7

Further, the data need not necessarily be complete, static data sets; it may equally be metadata or synthetic samples, and with the growth of the Internet of Things, is likely to be streamed sensor data.

Making this data available for specified purposes can unlock value for the organisation that holds it, for data users working with this data, or for the general public. This is why data sharing is crucial.8