Data for policy: when the haystack is made of needles. A call for contributions

Diana Vlad-Câlcic at the European Commission: “If policy-making is ‘whatever government chooses to do or not to do’ (Th. Dye), then how do governments actually decide? Evidence-based policy-making is not a new answer to this question, but it is constantly challenging both policy-makers and scientists to sharpen their thinking, their tools and their responsiveness.  The European Commission has recognised this and has embedded in its processes, namely through Impact Assessment, policy monitoring and evaluation, an evidence-informed decision-making approach.

With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk. (John von Neumann)

New data technologies raise the bar high for advanced modelling, dynamic visualisation, real-time data flows and a variety of data sources, from sensors, to cell phones or the Internet as such. An abundance of (big) data, a haystack made of needles, but do public administrations have the right tools and skills to exploit it? How much of it adds real value to established statistics and to scientific evidence? Are the high hopes and the high expectations partly just hype? And what lessons can we learn from experience?

To explore these questions, the European Commission is launching a study with the Oxford Internet Institute, Technopolis and CEPS  on ‘Data for policy: big data and other innovative data-driven approaches for evidence-informed policymaking’. As a first step, the study will collect examples of initiatives in public institutions at national and international level, where innovative data technologies contribute to the policy process. It will eventually develop case-studies for EU policies.

Contribute to the collective reflection by sharing with us good practices and examples you have from other public administrations. Follow the developments of the study also on Twitter @data4policyEU