Big Data for Policy

The European Commission has commissioned Technopolis Group, Oxford Internet Institute (OII) and the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) to conduct an international study on innovative data approaches to inform policy making. The topic cuts across all policy areas and societal challenges, therefore the study will not be limited to the portfolio of the Commission’s Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT), but will include other services and policy areas.

We are experiencing a step change in the possibilities to collect, link, analyse and visualise data (‘big data’). Data sources include social media, real-time sensor data, public administration data (including open data), data from statistical offices, commercially traded data, and the like. The increased volume and variety of data, together with advances in connectivity, data storage and computing, allow for improvements in data analytics. Options for visualisation of data go well beyond interactive maps, heat maps, timelines and network graphs.

Public policymakers have started to explore how big data can be used throughout the policy cycle of agenda setting, policy design, ex ante impact assessment, monitoring and ex post evaluation and impact assessment. One of the challenges is to ensure that well-designed indicators, more data and new analytical tools actually lead to better insights and policy impact. Another challenge is to address privacy and other legal and ethical issues.

The study will produce:

  • An inventory of big data for policy initiatives in European Union Member States and in Canada, India, Singapore, South Korea and the US. Further, relevant initiatives at the international level (EC, OECD, WHO, UN, etc.) also fall within scope.
  • A report about state-of-the-art in big data for evidence-based policy, building on the inventory, a literature review, stakeholder mapping and interviews with thought leaders.
  • Six case studies for the European Commission, in collaboration with the relevant EC services.
  • One of the six case studies will be developed into an online demonstrator.

Throughout the study, experts, stakeholders and other interested parties will be invited to contribute with their insights and to give feedback on the main findings, both online and offline. In particular, an international workshop with thought leaders and practitioners will be held in September 2015 in Brussels.

Contact persons

Technopolis Group: Dr. Martijn Poel,

Oxford Internet Institute: Prof. Ralph Schroeder

Centre for European Policy Studies: Dr. Colin Blackman

European Commission (DG CONNECT): Dr. Prabhat Agarwal