W3C’s Rigo Wenning writes:
DG CNECT organised a workshop to identify cross-cutting issues in the standardisation landscape of the European data economy. Invited were industry representatives from different sectors, Member States, representatives of standardisation organisations and other experts on data interoperability. And many followed that invitation. The room was packed with representatives from all major actors in the area and also featured a massive presence from other EC units.
Márta Nagy-Rothengass opened the Workshop with an overview of the Commission’s Digital Agenda thriving to create a Digital Single market and a Data economy. Unfortunately she had to leave for the Big Data from Space conference, an important event for Copernicus – The European Earth Observation Programme.
The workshop’s first goal was to encourage discussions to identify needs for interoperability across industry sectors. The innovative and open agenda catered to this goal. Instead of the usual powerpoint presentation staccato, we had an extensive first round of personal statements of interest. This round allowed everyone to assess the breadth of interests represented around the table and gave a first overview of the issues at hand. Social issues including data protection were raised that make sharing of data so difficult. There were direct calls to invest into standards for healthcare data interoperability. But some people were just there to listen and to anticipate issues and their solutions. Others wanted more SME involvement and called for some support in that direction. The NIST big data reference model was cited and several people called for an ISO standardisation of a reference architecture.
The Big Data Europe project was cited prominently. And the aim for a further semantification of Big Data was confirmed by many people calling for more semantics and more metadata. Some were still in the old monolithic thinking of an all encompassing data schema for a certain sector but most were aware that Linked Data allows one to combine globally what is best developed locally. Geospatial data people were reporting the joint work of OGC and W3C while climate people called for more interoperability in climate data. Unfortunately, Márta Nagy-Rothengass has already left the room, but people from the Copernicus programme were still there. Finally, a short description of a French-German cooperation on smart data was given and triggered first discussions. Finally someone added that performance measuring and testing are missing from the discussion on standards thus creating gaps when trying to compare the several big data platforms.
Then there were some presentations on the Digital Agenda and standards, the Big Data Value Association, ISO/IEC JTC 1 WG 9 and the aforementioned French-German cooperation.
In the afternoon, the Workshop split in three subgroups:
- Big data interoperability
- Big data technologies
- Processes for data management
The goal was to come back with a report on the discussions. In the first Group the debate revolved around data interoperability, syntactic and semantic needs for more interoperability. This was seen as a key asset to also help with the challenges of the European linguistic variety. Standard catalogues of data and the right entity identifiers were seen as key to progress. The second group mainly discussed concrete steps to kick-start work on the big data reference architecture and the third group focused on societal issues in data management. While groups 1 and 2 came with concrete suggestions to the table, group 3 had interesting discussions and concluded that there are further events needed to explore the societal challenges. Standards may help, but the concrete contribution remained too wide to call already for concrete actions. And this lead to the consensus between all 3 Groups: people congratulated the Commission for an interesting and well organised Workshop and encouraged them to repeat the exercise.