H2020 project PolicyCloud to help make data-driven policy management a reality across Europe

news photo

Digitisation and big data are revolutionising the way we live, think and make decisions. With the constant proliferation of devices and networks, more and more data is being created from a variety of sources that can be stored, transmitted and processed efficiently in large amounts. These changes are being increasingly embraced by policy makers. Cloud environments, big data and other innovative data-driven approaches are making it possible for them to deliver evidence-based policies which can have an impact on the economic growth, modernisation of public sectors and improve the lives of citizens across Europe.

However, new technologies and big data also bring new challenges for governments, businesses and policy makers are constantly looking for efficient ways for policy modelling, creation and implementation. With so much data now available to them, how can they effectively access this, make sense of it, and use it to improve efficiency in the policy making process.

PolicyCloud is a brand-new project that will address these challenges by becoming the first pilot using the European cloud infrastructure for public administrations. Funded under the European Commission’s H2020 programme, over the next 3 years the project will deliver a unique integrated environment addressing the full lifecycle of policy management. The project will use the capabilities offered by the European Cloud Initiative, especially concerning data analysis, in order to facilitate evidence-based policy making.

Led by ATOS Spain, the 14-partner-strong consortium from across Europe covers a diverse range of organisations, including large companies and cloud providers, SMEs, research centres and policy makers. They will provide PolicyCloud with the perfect mix of skills for approaching its long-term mission towards policy co-creation and cross-sector optimisation.During the project kick-off meeting in Madrid last week, project coordinator Ricard Munné, ATOS Spain commented 'the mix of technical expertise and pilot cases will demonstrate how new technologies can be harnessed for trusted, data - driven policy making.'

Dimosthenis Kyriazis, University of Piraeus Research Center, added that PolicyCloud will provide technologies for data fusion and aggregation, also making data interoperable. One of the key innovations is the Policy Development Toolkit, and in particular “the way in which different analytics will run on different datasets, ​meaning that analytics will be provided as a service.” This will allow policy makers to collect insights and compile policies without having to get into technical details.

Klaus Brisch from DWF highlighted the great ethical challenge of bridging the technology that allows us to collect and analyse large amounts of data, with the decision-making process. “We have to make sure that the services and products we develop in PolicyCloud are going to be compliant with the legal regulation,” he added, “especially when it comes to data protection, privacy, or cybersecurity.” Eventually, future recommendations coming from PolicyCloud might also inspire changes in regulations.

PolicyCloud boasts four pilot cases, covering complex themes in different fields which will serve as demonstrators for data-driven policy management and leverage methodologies for user participation from citizens and communities. The results will be evaluated in heterogeneous environments and settings, demonstrating the applicability and re-usability of the developed models and tools in different countries, contexts and sectors.

The first use case will focus on collecting and analysing data from social media and message boards, in order to provide policy makers with effective data-driven tools for addressing the issue of radicalisation. The second use case will exploit the PolicyCloud platform as a support tool to facilitate collaborative decision making for the various actors in the agrifood value chain in Aragon, Spain.

The Municipality of Sofia is the focus of the third use case, which improves urban environments and monitoring through crowdsourcing data analysis, specifically via an interactive map of the city on which citizens can signal issues to the administration in real-time. Use case four will build upon the work initiated in London on predictive analysis towards unemployment risks identification and policy making.

The final solutions and tools developed by PolicyCloud will eventually become available as public cloud services, contributing to the development of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), a core element in the European Commission’s vision of making Europe a global leader in data management, as recently explained by EC President von der Leyen at the 50th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Further details and updates about the evolution of PolicyCloud will be disseminated through the official website, as well as social media, newsletters, and other channels. Follow this journey towards the realisation of the European cloud for data-driven policy management.