Capgemini Consulting leads the development of Europe’s Open Data portal

18 April 2018 8 min. read

The European Commission has engaged a consortium of consultancies and academic institutions across the continent to support the further development of its European Open Data portal. The consortium is led by Capgemini Consulting, the management consulting arm of Capgemini.

The term Open Data refers to freely available information which has either been commissioned, produced or collected by a public service or government and can be freely used by anyone. Open Data is considered to have tangible financial benefits for citizens, businesses and civil societies. It has the potential to, according to a 2015 Capgemini study, increase transparency and enhance good-governance through accountability. As a result, governments across Europe are investing in the use of Open Data – the market size of the technology is estimated to increase by 37% in the four years to 2020.

With the rich benefits of Open Data in mind, the European Commission decided in 2012 to begin building an European data portal. By 2015, the Beta version of the portal became available and the site was officially launched in February of the following year. The European Data Portal gathers and collects a magnitude of government information available from the public data portals of 34 European nations. It provides information regarding the provision of the Open Data and the benefits of its re-use. The Portal focuses on the entire data value chain: from publishing the data and distribution to utilisation and how it has been re-used. In addition to the collection and tracking of metadata, the strategic objective of the European data portal is to improve accessibility to Open Data, down the line increasing uptake by member states.

Maturity of Europe’s Open Data portal

European Data portal

Three pillars form the basis for the new Open Data portal. First of all, the portal allows access to public data from all over Europe via one central point. To date, the portal provides access to more than 800,000 datasets throughout Europe and provides a variety of learning tools and cases studies. The datasets are divided into 73 catalogs, mainly containing the portals of individual member states. The second pillar supports member states in creating an online sharing community through which policy makers and the private sector can not only access data but maintain and improve data availability as well. The last pillar revolves around identifying the socio-economic benefits of reusing government data and offering various incentives to further stimulate use. This final dimension is to act as an overarching approach to support the publication of Open Data. 

As the European Data Portal spans the entire continent, users will no longer have to search for data via various member-state sites. Data is easily accessible and translatable, which in a region with 24 official languages, drastically increases data accessibility. For example, a Dutch policy maker within the Ministry of Health, Care and Welfare can quickly consult German healthcare reports, or a Spanish retailer can easily find information on retail turnover in certain regions of France using local reports. This in turn creates greater continuity between European countries who are engaged in the European Economic Area. 

Capgemini Consulting leads consortium

To receive guidance during the development and roll-out of the European data portal, the European Commission will collaborate with several service providers for consultancy, IT advice and legal support. At the head of the external consortium is Capgemini Consulting, the consulting arm of ICT service provider Capgemini. The firm has been involved since the very start of the programme, and in a competitive tendering process concluded in the first quarter of this year, the consultancy was selected to continue the work for the next years. The other parties in the consortium are: Intrasoft International, Fraunhofer Fokus, con.terra, Sogeti, the Open Data Institute, time.lex and the University of Southampton.

The impact of Open Data in Europe

Capgemini Consulting has been tasked with overseeing the programme management, as well as providing consulting services and carrying out related data-economic studies. One of the consultancy’s major recent studies – Open Data Maturity in Europe 2017: Open Data for a European Data Economy – highlighted that overall EU countries have made progress in their Open Data maturity by increasing amounts of open government data available in 2017. Leading the pack in portal maturity is Luxembourg at 96%, who are closely followed by Spain, Germany, Ireland and Romania at 93% each. At the bottom end, only two countries, Hungary and Malta, are still below the 50% threshold, which shows a steep improvement by six nations. 

Dinand Tinholt, Vice President and Global EU Lead at Capgemini Consulting, explained how the contract with the European Commission will strengthen the firm’s position in relation to the European data economy: “This strategic win strengthens Capgemini’s position in making the data economy a reality, in providing both support and a perspective on what we can expect from the integration of a growing number of data sources.” Wendy Carrara, a consultant at Capgemini Consulting who leads the European Data Portal programme for the European Commission, continued: "We look forward to continue working together with Member States in the coming years to apply and develop Open Data capabilities.”

As part of the consortium’s mandate, European countries will also receive support to improve the access of Open Data and to further develop data portals, so that re-using of government data within each country is promoted. Tinholt added: “Member States understand the usefulness to jointly discover the possibilities of Open Data. The European data portal has a unique position in defining the norm and supporting European countries to close the gap and reach higher levels of Open Data maturity.” In addition to improving the European data portal, the engagement also includes measuring the value of Open Data maturity in Europe and determining the market value of the data economy in the light of current and planned developments.

Economic impact Open Data

Interest in Open Data has been steadily increasing, in part due to the strong economic impacts indicated in Capgemini Consulting’s research. The study identified four key indicators which build the value of Open Data; the direct market value, the number of created jobs, cost savings and efficiency benefits. In view of the first aspect, the researchers estimated that the total market size of Open Data within the EU28+ will increase to €75.7 billion by 2020, bringing the total direct market value in the period between 2016 and 2020 to roughly €325 billion.

Social impact of Open Data portal

Furthermore, in terms of job creation, the consultants calculated that the European private sector could see an increase of some 25,000 jobs compared to 2016. In addition, the study predicted that the European public sector could achieve cost savings of up to €1.7 billion per member state by 2020. 

More recent research has identified various impact efficiency areas categorised in sub-indicator fields; political, social and economic. Outside of the above mentioned economic impacts, Open Data can increase political transparency and facilitate social inclusion. Benefits in this realm will begin to be realised by the beginning of next decade. In 2017, nations with a high level of portal maturity have experienced an increase of government efficiency. This includes improving public administration in terms of effectiveness in areas such as the state budget. The data can be used towards fixing social matters and in real time decision making on public issues.

One example from the field of environmental impact; according to UK survey results, data collection of water flow and flooding has led to an improved risk management system and improved flood alerts. Another example is of a French app designed to indicate which public places people with reduced mobility can access easily, based on an Open Data source. Other examples show increased effectiveness of train scheduling, traffic flow car parking and energy reduction.

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