Deliverable 2.1 Report on Economic and Political Issues

The proliferation of data availability is reshaping the economic and political realm. On the one hand, big data enables private and public parties to provide better quality services and products. On the other, the usage of data has led to policy response for limiting (e.g. the GDPR) or enabling (e.g. EU’s policy towards a ‘digital single market’) the application of big data.
This report aims at revealing the wider economic and political issues involved with utilizing big data by elaborating on the interaction between transport actors (demand-, supply-, external- and governance actors) and their role in the data economy (as data users, suppliers or facilitators). Subsequently, the interaction between these actors is described on various levels.
On the firm level, private parties use big data use big data for improved situational awareness of the transport system, improving the capacity of transport networks, improving transportation services and facilitating the shift to sustainable transport.
On the industry level, the data economy is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years. While the EU data economy remains to be in a deficit compared to the US regarding structural factors (fewer data SME), cultural/educational factors (ability to create and keep data-related skills), and the presence of IT giants, there is a healthy presence of digital start-ups and innovation capacity.
On the national level, governments utilize big data in improving organisational performance and in service provision and policy making. Subsequently, big data is applied in transport related government tasks, including transport planning, traffic monitoring and public transport provision.
On international level, governments want to control data flows to limit the negative consequences of data, e.g. preventing the misuse of personal or classified data. Another reason is to easier carry out their task as supervisor, e.g. demanding local storage of tax or gambling data to simplify control routines.
Having discussed this, the most critical challenges for the future identified in this report are:

  • Lack of data professionals, in particular within governments;
  • Government compartmentalization, limiting optimal data usage by governments;
  • An insufficient framework that satisfies both the user demand for privacy and the usage of personal information for business innovation. This is particularly relevant for public-private data sharing schemes;
  • Too little awareness on the capacity of big data, as ‘bad’ big data analysis happens quickly, i.e. too little knowledge on what transport-related questions it can and cannot address, and how big data should address these questions.

This document is valuable in the objective definition stage of big data applications in transport. It facilitates the discussion on if big data should be used by providing insight into how that may be. Economic actors are provided with an overview of existing applications of big data in the transport sector. Political actors are given insight into how governments are currently using big data.