Earlier this month, during the 2019 Digital Government Conference in Helsinki, the Lisbon Council launched ‘The Public-Data Opportunity: Why Governments Should Share More’, a new discussion paper after the insights gained at the workshop on ‘Public Sector Data: Still a Missed Opportunity’, held in Brussels on 4 June 2019.
Based on the research conducted within the Co-VAL project for delivering better public services and improving citizen-state relations, the paper analyses how a joint action can transform public services.
In their paper, Daniela Battisti, Francesco Mureddu and David Osimo pinpoint that by generating greater data sharing among European Union member states, policymaking and service delivery can be radically improved. As they explain, ‘It does not come as a surprise that data are a fundamental tool for policy monitoring and evaluation, but the reality is that data analytics can improve decision making across the whole spectrum of the policy cycle’. In specific, the authors suggest that data analytics can optimise resource allocation, identify specific cases in a wider target group, and prioritise cases based on risk or need. Some examples are:
- Internet of Things (IoT) technologies can be used to map circulation data from sensors to depict traffic patterns, aiming to alleviate traffic congestion.
- Data from disease monitoring can help draw a picture of health trends in a community or to even track epidemic spread.
- Data analytics can be used by law enforcement to uncover crime and national security threats by triangulating social media data, arrest records, and crime statistics.
- Data analytics can be used to uncover fraud related to misallocation of social services or for matching tax information against personal records to discover uncollected taxes and fraudulent claims.
However, according to a 2017 survey on public sector data analytics by Italy for the eGovernment Action Plan Steering Board, there are certain barriers that delay the adoption of data-driven services across Europe. One significant barrier is that many people perform jobs that ‘do not match their skills’, as several ICT jobs in the public sector are either overrepresented or underserved. Furthermore, problems in data’s ‘findability, quality and technical accessibility’, complicate their re-use and exchange within public organisations.
The authors conclude their paper by stating that in order to deliver data driven public services, cultural and organisational changes are required; not only regulation and technology adoptions. Last but not least, they propose seven policy recommendations that will help lift the barriers on data sharing:
- Deliver The 2017 Tallinn Declaration on eGovernment and implement the updated European Interoperability Framework (EIF) proposed by the European Commission in 2017;
- Streamline national regulatory measures for data sharing;
- Create appropriate incentives and benefits for public administrations to share their data;
- Provide safe spaces and safeguards for innovation;
- Bring new skills in government;
- Facilitate peer to peer learning to foster experimentation and innovation.
- Provide evidence on the business case of data sharing.
You can read the whole paper built on the research conducted by Co-VAL here.