As mentioned in our previous blog post, Marc Hansen, Secretary of State for Higher Education and Research of Luxembourg opened the second day of the European Data Forum (EDF2015) with a statement that research and innovation are a priority for the Luxembourg Government, making up 0.7-0.9 percent of the country’s GDP. He pointed out that Luxembourg has one of most highly secure data parks in the world and they intend to apply for a common PCI (projects of common interest) project on high performance computing (HPC) and big data infrastructure will ensure European sovereignty on key HPC development technologies, an intention which was later applauded by Commissioner Oettinger.
The next speaker in the opening session of day two was Günther H. Oettinger, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, who highlighted that we are in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution which will have a profound impact on our lives. He stated that data analytics were becoming a key technology at the heart of the revolution industry 4.0. “What is needed today is the creation of value chains built on data” Oettinger continued. He pointed out that 1 in 10 supercomputing infrastructures were in Europe, in Luxembourg itself as a matter of fact. “We are lagging behind” he asserted and stated that every researcher should have access to supercomputing infrastructures in Europe, adding further that there was a need to coordinate and focus investments in the coming years as no EU member state can successfully compete with the US or China alone.
This statement came as an encouragement for our European BDE project which intends to build a community and develop a big data platform in all seven of the important societal challenges identified by the European Union in its Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Climate, Energy, Food, Health, Transport, Security, and Social Sciences). Indeed, in every one of these fields, the processing, analysis and integration of large amounts of data plays a growing role – such as the analysis of medical data, the decentralized supply with renewable energies or the optimization of traffic flow in large cities.
The Commissioner also emphasised the need to coordinate and focus investments in the coming years as no EU member state can successfully compete with the US or China alone. Oettinger pointed out that 700 m EURO from the Horizon 2020 programme was going into the common PCI and applauded Luxembourg’s intent to apply as mentioned by Marc Hansen.
Perhaps the highlight of his presentation for people keenly following European policy issues was his comment that a communication was to be published early 2016 on the setting up a European cloud initiative.
Another European development in the field of big data which will have come as a bearer of good news was the setting up of a European Data Science Academy to analyse data gap in Europe for data-skilled professionals, with the ambition of developing curricula and training on these.
Lastly, he drew attention to the BigDataValue PPP with its more than 130 countries and concluded by being optimistic that the European industry has the capacity of mastering the change.
On the previous day of EDF2015, Mariana Kotzeva, Deputy Director-General, Eurostat highlighted the Big data for official statistics competition. She explained that, in its first instalment, the competition was exclusively about nowcasting economic indicators at national or European level. The main goal of the competition is to discover promising methodologies and data sources that could, now or in the future, be used to improve the production of official statistics in the ESS. The competition comprises 7 tracks corresponding to 4 main indicators and some of their variants: unemployment, HICP, tourism and retail trade, and the deadline for registration is 10 January 2016. This competition could potentially be relevant to some of our societal challenge stakeholders in the framework of BDE.
Kotzeva’s presentation was focused on new frontiers for statistics and she also drew from the work of Eurostat on big data (dedicated portal) and to the ESS Vision 2020, a common strategic response of the European Statistical System (Eurostat, EU Member States and EFTA countries) to the challenges that official statistics is facing, and more specifically to the ESS Big Data Action Plan and Roadmap 1.0.
Then, another European portal took the spotlight at BDE as Wendy Carrara, Director and EU policy advisor, Capgemini Consulting revealed the new European Data Portal, launched at the EDF2015 conference itself. This portal harvests the metadata of Public Sector Information available on public data portals across European countries. It also offers information on the provision of data and on the benefits of re-using data. An article was published in The Guardian which highlights that the portal is part of a three year, €7.5m EU open data project.
The EU Open Data Portal was also mentioned, as the single point of access to a growing range of data from the institutions and other bodies of the EU. By providing easy and free access to data, the portal aims to promote their innovative use and unleash their economic potential. It also aims to help foster the transparency and the accountability of the institutions and other bodies of the EU. The EU Open Data Portal is managed by the Publications Office of the European Union. Implementation of the EU’s open data policy is the responsibility of the Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology of the European Commission.
You can access the programme, presentations and photographs from EDF2015 as well as see their press coverage on the conference website.