€2 BILLION: Steelie Neelie wants US to pay for her Big Data splurge

Don't worry about privacy, just think of the jobs

Knowledge is power. That’s the message from Steelie Neelie as the EU Commission throws half a billion at “big data”.

Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes announced the EC would contribute €500m to a €2.5bn scheme to leverage the power of big data. The rest will come from industry.

According to the Commission, mastering big data could mean: up to 30 per cent of the global data market coming into the hands of European suppliers; 100,000 new data-related jobs in Europe by 2020; ten per cent lower energy consumption, better healthcare outcomes and more productive industrial machinery.

But in a classic Steelie Neelie-ism, Kroes added that big data without a digital single market was like a “human body without arms or legs”. One of the jobs of the new project will be to identify obstacles to transportability and free movement of data in the EU.

The world generates 1.7 million billion bytes of data every single minute, equivalent to six megabytes of data per day for each person in the world, said Kroes, who argues that this is an opportunity Europe cannot afford to miss. Businesses that build their decision-making processes on knowledge generated from data see a five to six per cent increase in productivity.

The companies involved, including ATOS, Nokia, Orange, SAP and Siemens, are represented by the president of the Big Data Value Association, Jan Sundelin. He was keen to emphasise that data protection rules would be followed.

“The Commission will work with stakeholders to ensure that businesses receive guidance on how to make data anonymous and use pseudonyms to perform personal data risk analyses, and on tools and initiatives available to enhance consumer awareness.” says an official Commission statement.

The project, which will start work on 1 January 2015, will examine climate information, satellite imagery, digital pictures and videos, transaction records and GPS signals. It will also look at data privacy issues, access rights to data and databases, intellectual property rights and legal aspects of new technical developments such as who holds the rights to automatically generated data. ®

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