Big data already plays an important role in government by delivering better public services and supporting more effective policies. Potential savings are estimated up to €300 billion per year.
Application in public services is more mature, and delivers impacts across a wide range of services: in social services, existing projects in UK have already delivered reductions in time for handling information from 3 months to 3 hours, and helped halving the incidents related to exclusion. In public transport, 35.000 users in the first quarter of 2014 are benefiting from predictive models and information sharing on French trains to reduce congestion; car traffic wait time in Stockholm are reduced by 50% and vehicle emissions dropped by 14 to 18 percent. In Los Angeles, crime prediction software proved 50% more accurate in predicting crime than experienced analysis and led to 13% crime reduction.
Application on public policy is less mature, mainly aiming at predicting and managing disasters, identifying alternative measures to detect problems such as poverty, designing better innovation policy. Impact is still emerging and inherently more difficult to demonstrate.
Open government data are an important enabler, but the impact is reached when (non-open) administrative data are analysed and contextualized with open government data. The impact can’t be exclusively attributed to big data solutions, but is delivered in with innovations in service delivery models.
Many EU startups are active in this domain but these initiatives and services still are at the micro level and haven’t scaled as in the US counterparts. Government adoption is patchy and left to individual initiative; EU providers generally lag behind US competitors in delivering commoditized scalable solutions.
A strategic approach is needed to government as a lead user of big data, and as an enabler of greater data sharing, in the context of a wider big data industrial strategy. Few countries (e.g. UK) have adopted such a strategic approach.