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29.05.2014 |Constantinos Kokkinoplitis explains how we can increase the impact of open data economy in Greece

Constantinos KokkinoplitisOur pre-conference Interview Series continues with Constantinos Kokkinoplitis, Research & Innovation Strategy Expert. Constantinos Kokkinoplitis explains how open data drives growth and innovation. He discusses how we can increase the impact of open data economy in Greece and talks about the major issues that Greece faces in this effort.

How can open data and innovation be used effectively in order to achieve successful local entrepreneurship and contribute to regional planning and growth?

 It is now well known that open data drives growth by stimulating the creation of firms that reuse freely available government information in innovative ways. Generating value at the different stages of the data value chain is now at the center of the future knowledge economy, while proper use of these data can bring opportunities also to more traditional sectors such as health, farming, transport, or manufacturing. Whether we are talking about geographical information, statistics, weather data, research data, transport data, energy consumption data, or health data, it is certain that good use of it through advanced analytical and processing tools leads to technological innovations, new jobs and skills.

Handling big data requires increased technological capacity and advanced tools, while it may have huge economic benefits to Government bodies and especially to the private sector. However, very few governments are taking the right measures in realizing the economic benefits out of Open Data and this is why open data in general and most important public open data policies must be in the agenda of every local – regional or national authority.

Are there any instruments to support the exploitation of public sector information?

In the EU27 it has been estimated that the direct impact of Open Data economy was estimated at €32 Billion in 2010, with an estimated annual growth rate of 7%. However here in Greece as in most countries, we overlook the importance of releasing high value datasets and creating so the necessary environment for business creation and growth. It would seem that beginning with releasing and sharing datasets with valuable information in geospatial, meteorological and environmental information is a good start.  Although there is an abundance of data in all these areas, this information is not codified and therefore it cannot be useful.

Therefore, as a first phase towards the exploitation of the open data economy, small steps to move us in this direction could involve release of data, elaboration of it, provision of better search functionalities on their portals. In addition to the above as a next phase it is required that the public authorities proceed with structure of data to ease reuse of it, optimization of the number of datasets, ensuring regular updates of data and disparity reduction. The major issue here is that public authorities need to understand the importance of this issue and to start developing institutions with an explicit mandate to create the necessary framework and encourage the development of Open Data. Given the fact that we are in the process of drafting the Operational programmes of the new programming period 2014 – 2020 and in light of the new tools that EC is endorsing i.e. Smart Specialization, Regional Innovation Strategies, ICT agenda, emphasis on RDI, a great opportunity lies in front of us to put in place and incorporate a clear public open data policy. This will not only enhance the Innovation ecosystem but will also assist us in making better policy decisions, in evaluating the impact of the OP interventions and also in combating corruption through transparency.

What’s happening in Greece concerning both the above questions?

Although the European Union is the largest economy in the world, and makes up around 20% of global GDP – today only 2 out of the top 20 companies changing lives and making money out of big data are European.

Following this trend, Greece as most of the countries in Europe may be considered as being in the initial stages of the open data frenzy that is taking place over the world. Data portals are typically characterized by lack of good quality, codified and updated data. The open data portals are not very elaborate, with almost basic functionalities, making it difficult to search and utilize the data that is opened up.

In addition to all this, we may say that we have limited community participation on the respective portals, although now lately considerable progress seems to being developed.

We must however make sure that for improving this situation, public administration officials must realize the value that opening up data can have and the authorities have to consider the effect it will have in innovation, job creation and especially in startups and the economic benefits out of Open Data.

Given the fact that Greece excels in the ICT sector which is one of the prerequisites for open data exploitation and with the abundance of young well educated individuals we have in these areas, I believe we must consider the open data area as being of strategic importance for the creation of highly innovative startups.  Spreading this effort in all parts of the government and the regional authorities will lead in achieving and utilizing the critical mass of research and innovation on data in our country.



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