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Analytical Report 19: Understanding supply and demand on the European Data Portal

The European Data Portal’s 19th analytical report pro-vides a detailed analysis of the relationship between supply and demand of datasets on the EDP

EDP publishes 19th analytical report

The European Data Portal (EDP) just published the 19th analytical report: “Understanding supply and demand on the European Data Portal”. The report is prepared by the University of Southampton and provides a detailed analysis of the relationship between supply and demand of datasets on the EDP. This report follows up on the research and findings of  Analytical Report 18: “Characterising dataset search on the European Data Portal”, which investigated how users search for datasets on the EDP. As there is no direct measurement for this, the authors analysed proxies such as downloads and go-to-source activities logged by the portal to identify search sessions.

The report delves into user’s needs and COVID-19

The current analytical report dives deeper into user’s needs and monitors the developments of those needs over time. To investigate this, researchers analysed the interaction logs of the EDP from early April 2018 to late October 2020. In doing so, they strove to discover if there are datasets harvested by the portal that are consistently demanded for over time, or to show if there is periodical / episodical demand (i.e. demand goes up and down in cycles like elections or result from specific events like natural disasters, or COVID-19).

The report is broken up into two parts. The first is an initial study of datasets search through the lens of the digital traces collected via web analytics tools. The second is a deep-dive into supply and demand for COVID-19 data and the impact auxiliary content such as data stories, topical articles, and promotion campaigns have on search behaviour.

The results provide several insights into general supply and demand

The initial study of the report provides answers to four questions:

  1. Which categories of datasets are in high demand?

From the results it appears that, transport, economy, environment, and health are the datasets with the highest demand. Health became more popular in March 2020 while transport declined.

  1. What datasets are most demanded by users?

Pre-COVID-19, geospatial datasets were most demanded by users. After April 2020, COVID-19 related datasets were the most downloaded, especially updates published by the EU Centre for Disease Control.

  1. What datasets are used together?

There is enormous variation is this. For more details, consult the analytical report.

  1. How do these dimensions vary over time? Are there any periodical or episodical effects in demand over time? Can we link the latter to specific events? 

Overall, dataset demand is relatively stable with only a few peaks and declines (147 datasets showed a download up peak). For example, around the winter holidays, the number of visits to the EDP visibly decline. There are three events that have led to an increase in demand, i.e. the launch of Google Dataset Search, the EU Datathon 2020, and the inauguration of a Romanian war cemetery and memorial for fallen soldiers.

There is some effect of the pandemic

Zooming into the COVID-19 situation. Firstly, findings show that the EDP was used 20% more during the pandemic, which can be attributed to the dedicated COVID-19 section. Users found this section mostly through search engines.

Secondly, the publication of COVID-19 data stories increased traffic to the portal with five stories attracting over 5000 visits, and one story on education attracting 14000 visits. Finally, regarding the number of downloads, results showed that COVID-19 datasets were downloaded more often and are in the top-10 overall most downloaded datasets despite being available for a short period of time only.

Authors propose four recommendations

Based on the findings, and in order to retain and increase traffic to the portal, the report recommends that dataset publishers and open data platforms software:

  1. Create curated content about relevant datasets and showcase them on a dedicated section of the site. For instance, a monthly article that describes a current topic on the basis of a dataset.
  2. Design with user-journeys and information needs in mind. User journeys that start on the portal vary widely from those that land on the portal.
  3. Monitor regularly to discover the categories that are in demand.

Analytical report 19 gives us more detailed insights into common user journeys in dataset discovery and into the information needs that EDP should aim to meet. Interested to read the full methodology and results? Explore the full article.

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