European policies and agendas are critical to ensuring that big data can reach its full potential in Europe. The policy roadmap for big data is available in Table 16.2.
Education and Skills
Recognition and promotion of digital literacy as an important twenty-first century skill is one of the most crucial areas for the long-term success of big data in Europe. There is already a huge shortage of IT and big data professionals, and Europe is predicted to face a shortage of up to 900,000 ICT professionals by 2020.Footnote 1 The skills shortage is risking the potential for growth and digital competitiveness
. According to a number of studies, the demand for specific big data workers (e.g., data scientists
, data engineers
, architects, analysts) will further increase by up to 240 % in the next 5 yearsFootnote 2 which could result in an additional 100,000 data-related jobs by 2020. This problem affects not only the big data domain, but also the whole digital landscape and has to be addressed in a general, broad, and urgent manner. Data and code-literacy
should be integrated into standard curriculum from an early age. Specific big data skills like data engineering
, data science
, statistical techniques, and related disciplines should be taught in institutions of higher education. Easier access to work permits for non-Europeans should also be considered to help spur the European big data economy.
European Digital Single Market
Despite the fact that the digital economy has existed for some time now, the EU’s single market is still functioning best in more traditional areas like the trade of physical goods. It has so far failed to adapt to many of the challenges of the digital economy.
An established digital single market could lead the world in digital technology. Policymakers need to promote harmonization. This means combining 28 different regulatory systems, removing obstacles, tackling fragmentation, and improving technical standards and interoperability. Reaching this goal by 2019 is quite ambitious, but it is a necessary step towards a future European common data area.
for Big Data Technology
Create a friendlier start-up environment with increased access to funding. There is a lack of appropriate funding for research and innovation. Public supports and funding should increase. However, given the current budget constraints in Europe, alternative approaches also need to be considered (such as providing legal incentives
for investment in big data, European Investment Bank, etc.).
Europe is also lacking an entrepreneurial atmosphere
(i.e. venture capital spent per capita in comparison to USA or Israel). Fostering a better private financing environment for start-ups and SMEs is crucial.
Privacy and Legal
Provide clear, understandable, reasonable rules regarding data privacy. When it comes to privacy rights and big data a double challenge is faced, lacking a European Digital Single Market
, and the absence of unified user rights. This needs to be urgently addressed, since confidence and adoption of big data technology is dependent on the trust of the user. According to the latest indications EU Data Protection
is expected to be signed in 2015, but a broader discussion will still be needed. Other areas that need to be considered are copyright
and whether there is the right of data ownership
No matter how quickly technology advances, it remains within the citizens’ power to ensure that both innovation is encouraged and values are protected through law, policy, and the practices encouraged in the public and private sector. To that end, policymakers should set clear rules regarding data privacy
so that organizations know what personal data they can store and for how long, and what data is explicitly protected by privacy regulations. Policy makers need to advance consumer and privacy laws to ensure consumers have clear, understandable, reasonable standards for how their personal information is used in the big data era.
and Data Silos
Open data can create a cultural change
within organizations towards data sharing and cooperation. From reducing the costs of data management to creating new business opportunities, many organizations are gaining benefits from opening up and sharing selected enterprise data. European governments need to start the discussion on openness by default. Harnessing data as a public resource to improve the delivery of public services. The sooner European governments open their data the higher the returns.
Big Open Data
should be the goal where possible.
Foster Technical Infrastructure
Big data is not a standalone solution and depends on many layers like infrastructure, Internet of Things
, broadband access for users, networks, open source, and many more. The cross-fertilization of these layers is vital to the success of big data. A technology push is needed to strengthen European technology providers to provide big data infrastructure that is competitive or leading when compared to other regions.