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EVENT | 26 April 2016

Data for Policy: an increasingly global affair

  •   15 September 2016-16 September 2016
  •   Cambridge, UK

In a dynamic environment where data science and big data promise to fundamentally challenge and improve the way policies are designed, executed and monitored, there is an opportunity for more global collaboration and mutual learning. An international Data for Policy conference hosted by the University of Cambridge proposes a wider discussion. Deadline for abstract submission is 16 May.

Big Data and data analytics are overwhelmingly embraced by the private sector, e.g. to provide better, more targeted and cheaper products and services. Governments are also increasingly exploring applications for policymaking and for delivering better public services. This is true at every level of government: local, regional, national, and, more and more so, international.

From measuring poverty through satellite imagery, to mobile phone data for disaster management during floods, the UN Global Pulse has championed applications based on big data for public good. For European policies, a number of opportunities emerge (as highlighted, amongst other efforts, by this study) for financial stability monitoring, trade policy, environmental monitoring, crisis intervention, health policy, digital policy, et cetera, et cetera. These tools come with a more in depth reflection and challenges, not least around data quality, availability and access, governance and privacy, methodologies and analytics, but also capacity to absorb such insights into policy processes and decision-making, and building capability and data literacy.

In an environment evolving at high speed, this also points to an opportunity for more, global collaboration and cooperation between public institutions. With a shared goal - working for the public good - and a common and costly toolbox – big data comes with steep learning curves and high investments in skills, capability and policy innovation - it seem urgent to collaborate widely. In the Commission, we enthusiastically support and seek opportunities for exchanging widely and learning from other experiences.

Notably, some of our work will be presented in an international conference on the Frontiers of Data Science for Government, hosted by the University of Cambridge on 15-16 September, supported by a series of international partners. The conference proposes a useful discussion forum for a broad range of stakeholders, including academics, policymakers and private sector organisations. A call for submissions is open until 16 May, including abstracts of individual presentations or group/special session proposals from relevant disciplines and application domains. Topics covered include but are not limited to government and policy, policy for data, data analytics and methodologies, emerging data sources and specific application areas.