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Business-to-Government (B2G) Data Sharing webinar

Overview of the European Data Portal's B2G Data Sharing webinar

Business-to-Government (B2G) Data Sharing

On 23 May the European Data Portal (EDP) hosted the webinar "Business-to-Government (B2G) Data Sharing" to discuss B2G data sharing initiatives in Europe and beyond. This webinar complements the EDP's analytical report on B2G Data Sharing published earlier this year. Data sharing is a key enabler of growth, employment and competitiveness for Europe and the Digital Single Market envisaged by the European Union. The non-rivalrous nature of data, combined with technological innovations such as the availability of big data analysis and artificial intelligence applications, enables users to maximise the value of data. Essentially, re-using data can save costs, time and lives.

The benefits of data re-use are not reserved to the private sector. In fact, to become more cost-efficient and provide effective services for citizens, public sector bodies can benefit greatly from data sharing and need to exploit the potential of new data sources. This data can be sourced from the private sector, academia, NGOs or the public sector itself.

The webinar had three speakers to elaborate on this subject:

  • Stefaan Verhulst, the Co-Founder and Chief Research and Development Officer of GovLab, responsible for building a research foundation on how to transform governance using advances in science and technology.
  • David Osimo, the Direct of Research at the Lisbon Council who focuses on issues such as the data economy, digital government, and data sharing.
  • Esther Huyer, co-author of the report B2G Data Sharing from the European Data Portal who focuses on increasing the uptake and re-use of data for joint informed decision making.

The speakers discussed 4 different topics, that are outlined below:

  • The benefits of B2G Data Sharing for businesses and public organisations.
  • The challenges to B2G Data Sharing.
  • The different models of successful B2G Data Sharing.
  • How to support sustainable and responsible data sharing systematically.


Benefits of B2G Data Sharing

There are several benefits of B2G Data Sharing for businesses and public organisations. The benefits for businesses to provide data are that:

  • They can improve their public image due to proof of their commitment to corporate social responsibility.
  • They can gain new insights from existing or additional data and analysis.
  • There is potential revenue from exchanging the data and re-using it.

For the public sector, re-using the data can:

  • Improve their decision-making processes and their service offering.
  • Increase efficiency in the decision-making and implementation process.
  • Boost innovation power in research.
  • Support technological advancements.

The benefits of B2G data sharing for businesses and public organisations are interlinked and affect each other. For example, higher innovation power in the public sector creates new opportunities for businesses and vice versa.


Challenges to B2G Data Sharing

However, despite the benefits of B2G Data Sharing, it is important to note that there is also data that cannot be made open because of sensitivity or confidentiality. This data can only be shared under special conditions and to a restricted and controlled set of users in order to leverage their value. An example of a value is an insight into the behavioural patterns of citizens and businesses across social, political, historical or environmental factors. This insight can help public sector organisations understand, evaluate, predict and prepare for certain situations and scenarios. For example:

  • Understanding commuting patterns to support urban planning, road safety and traffic management, as well as environmental protection.
  • Additional insight into a population's health conditions, diagnosis and medical treatments can improve public health care and lead to a more effective response to epidemics.
  • Market monitoring and payment patterns can help detect fraud and increase consumer protection.

In addition, there are legal, technical and organisational constraints to B2G Data Sharing. These factors must be considered when setting up a framework for successful and sustainable data sharing between businesses and public organisations.

In terms of legal guidance, an example is intellectual property rights. Company data is often the combination of very heterogeneous sources, from historical archives to datasets that are the results of working with suppliers and contractors, where the intellectual property of the data produced may be unclear. Other points of legal guidance to consider are liability and accountability, legal framework and support in data sharing and protecting personal data.

In the field of technical requirements, an example is the anonymisation, pseudo anonymisation, and aggregation of data. These are techniques that sanitise information to protect people's privacy and to ensure that data that would otherwise be considered personal and confidential, requiring special legal constraints, can be processed and used without it linking back to a person. Additional requirements are selection and preparation of data, data governance and access to data.

An example of an organisational consideration is customer reaction to data sharing. Beyond the legal and financial risks, companies voice concern around the customers' perception of data sharing, when that might include customer data. This is an issue even when all the necessary precautions are taken to protect confidentiality and privacy. Other considerations are the cost and benefits of data sharing and data sharing capability and culture.


B2G Data Sharing Models

Different actors in research and politics have dedicated their efforts to categorising B2G data sharing models. Generally, it can be said that there is no one approach that suits all situations and even the different models must be adapted based on each individual scenario. Differentiating the models still makes sense in order to understand the different answers to the various needs, especially in the state of designing and assessing data sharing frameworks. The identified models below are not set in stone, they much more occur in combination or in hybrid forms.

  • Multi-party data sharing agreement
  • Data donorship
  • Data partnerships
  • Data intermediaries
  • Data sharing by regulation


Sustainable and Responsible Data Sharing

For B2G Data Sharing to be successful and sustainable, it must be legally compliant, technically feasible, socially acceptable, financially and commercially viable, and must mitigate risk effectively. The European Data Portal has identified six steps that appear to be vital to the success of a B2G initiative:

  1. Team up with renowned and authoritative third parties
  2. Involve the customers
  3. Set up a data sharing framework
  4. Use a code of conduct
  5. Specify contractual agreements
  6. Use new technologies

Due to its novelty and complexity, it can be expected that new actors and new service models will emerge, and new regulations will guide, regulate and support B2G data sharing. We are at the very beginning of an inevitable shift toward achieving the fifth freedom: the free movement of data in the European Digital Market.


Thank you to our participants and guest speakers Stefaan Verhulst, David Osimo and Esther Huyer for joining the EDP's "Business to Government (B2G) Data Sharing" webinar! To learn more, read the full Analytical Report on B2G Data Sharing on the European Data Portal, watch the YouTube recording of the webinar, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to stay up to date with the latest open data topics!