Last month, the European Commission published its communication on the push towards a data-driven economy. In the report we read that this year big data technology and services are expected to grow worldwide at a compound annual growth rate of 40% to reach USD 16.9 billion, with enormous potential in various fields. One of the eight action points identified in the communication to seize these opportunities and compete globally in the data economy is the deployment of open data: the EU must extensively share, use and develop its public data resources and research data infrastructures.

Goal is to facilitate Data-Driven Innovation (DDI, the capacity of businesses and public sector bodies to make use of information from improved data analytics to develop improved goods and services that facilitate the everyday life of individuals and of organisations, including SMEs).

Open by default

The EC report comes in response to the European Council's 2013 call for EU action to facilitate a single market for big data and cloud computing. With regard to public data, it repeats the principles set earlier in the Open Data Directive and the G8 Open Data Charter: 'open by default', and freely and openly re-usable both for humans and machines.

Open data portals and research infrastructures should be set up to facilitate the availability of good quality, reliable and interoperable datasets and enabling infrastructure. Within the Horizon 2020 framework programme, an open data incubator will help SMEs set up supply chains based on data, promote open or fair access conditions to data resources, facilitate access to cloud computing, promote links to local data incubators across Europe and help SMEs obtain legal advice.

The implementation of the EU open data policy and the Open Data Directive will be facilitated by guidelines on recommended standard licences, datasets and charging for the re-use of documents. The EC and other EU bodies are leading the way by releasing their own documents as open data through the EU Open Data Portal. In addition, a pan-European open data digital service infrastructure under the Connecting Europe Facility programme will provide a one-stop-shop to open data across the EU.