The European Data Strategy: Common European Data Spaces
In her 2020 State of the Union Address, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen called for Europe to lead the way on digital in Data and Artificial Intelligence. The European Commission vision within their Data Strategy is to establish common European Data Spaces as a mechanism to support the sharing and exchange of data within a single market for data that will ensure Europe’s global competitiveness and data sovereignty (European Commission, 2020). The aim is to make data available in the economy and society, while keeping companies and individuals who generate the data in control, and respecting European values and regulation (Communication: A European Strategy for Data, 2020). Furthermore, common European data spaces are vital in implementing the European AI Strategy, as the potential for AI can only be fully exploited with access to large volumes of high-quality data. Data for AI is at the centre of the new €2.6 billion European Partnership on AI, Data and Robotics (Zillner et al., 2020) – an effort towards European global leadership through researching, developing, and deploying value-driven, trustworthy AI.
Our Digital Society
Data spaces offer the foundations to design a new digital society where individuals and organisations can share data in a trusted and controlled environment. A responsible method for discovering solutions to societal problems with the help of data-driven AI. It is an ambitious goal and a systemic change to our society that requires solid scientific, technical, and social foundations. We at NUI Galway’s Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics have been at the leading-edge in researching data space technology for the last decade. We have focused in particular on semantics and linguistics, knowledge graphs, linked data, and the Internet of Things in domains including Enterprise, Health, City, Water, and Energy (Curry, 2020).
The transition to data space technology will not, however, be a fast one. A decade may pass before we understand the methods and the means of mature data spaces. In comparison, the World Wide Web took from the mid-1990s to well beyond 2000 to develop into the everyday tool we use today to search for information and order weekly groceries. Moreover, the development of data spaces requires the engagement and agreement of our society. In the same way agreement preceded a common approach for the electricity grid, we need negotiation and collective agreement from industry large and small, policymakers, educators, researchers, and society, to create the basis of the data economy and common European data spaces.
Gibson’s quote continues to resonate and provoke debate today. Data spaces are already here – it’s time to evenly distribute them.
Curry, E. (2020). Real-time Linked Dataspaces: A Data Platform for Intelligent Systems Within Internet of Things-Based Smart Environments. In Real-time Linked Dataspaces (pp. 3–14). Cham: Springer International Publishing. (Open Access PDF)
Curry, E., Metzger, A., Zillner, S., Pazzaglia, J.-C., & García Robles, A. (Eds.). (2021). The Elements of Big Data Value. Cham: Springer International Publishing. (Open Access PDF)
European Commission. Communication: A European strategy for data (2020).
Zillner, S., Bisset, D., Milano, M., Curry, E., Hahn, T., Lafrenz, R., … O’Sullivan, B. (2020). Strategic Research, Innovation and Deployment Agenda – AI, Data and Robotics Partnership. Third Release (Third). Brussels: BDVA, euRobotics, ELLIS, EurAI and CLAIRE. (PDF)