Impact of Open data - definitions and reflections in the framework of the Luxembourgish Open data project
Open data can be directly used and reused by everyone. Its availability has a direct impact on the Luxembourgish society, through transparency, increased efficiency and innovation, and improved governance. In this sense, the Government's Open data strategy aims to unleash the potential of this data and increase its impact. As Luxembourg moves forward with open data, these effects will become noticeable:
- Economic growth: Luxembourg has a highly developed digital economy, and open data is considered a key driver of growth in this sector. In the Cap Gemini study on the economic impact of Open data, commissioned by the European Commission, the economic value of products, services and content enriched or enabled by Open data is estimated at 334 billion Euros in 2025 at the EU level. In a previous study on Open data in Luxembourg, its direct market was valued at 263 million Euros in 2020 with about 140 associated jobs.
- The digitization of public services: the Open data ecosystem is made up of actors from the public and private sectors as well as from civil society. The availability of Open data at the level of public services feeds a virtuous circle that leads to administrative simplification by fighting against silos and by creating synergies between services - in this perspective, the State itself would be one of the first beneficiaries. On the other hand, it often also allows for the rationalization of expenses, particularly in terms of data production: data that already exists can ideally be reused in other cases. An example is the geo-referenced address dataset offered by the cadastre and topography administration: not only is this data used in many applications of Luxembourg's public institutions, but it is also a basic ingredient for many other applications in all sectors. With regard to citizens in general and the private sector in particular, Open data is a guarantee of transparency and thus helps to maintain a high level of trust in institutions. This commitment also involves more direct communication between citizens and administrations, in particular via the data.public.lu platform.
- The innovation ecosystem: Luxembourg has a thriving ecosystem of startups, research and innovation centers in which Open data has an important role to play. Artificial intelligence, IoT, big data, are currently key areas of digital transformation and these areas are intimately linked to the availability of quality Open data. For example, the government has recently set up the AI4Gov program which has a very strong link with Luxembourg's Open data project. Other domains, such as cybersecurity, are flagships of the Luxembourg IT industry, and are major contributors to the national Open data effort (e.g. datasets published by CIRCL). The data driven innovation strategy of the Ministry of Economy ("the data driven innovation strategy for the development of a trusted a sustainable economy in Luxembourg") confirms this approach and defines specific innovation plans for 6 sectors: ICT, Industry 4.0, Eco technologies, health technologies, space, logistics and financial services. While there is no doubt about the importance of Open data itself as a lever for these sectoral innovation plans, not all the needs of the economic actors can be met without - controlled - access to data beyond the reach of unconditional openness. To this end, the Grand Duchy is currently (May 2023) implementing a general platform for data exchange, allowing to address the use case of data that cannot be opened to the general public.
- Cross-border collaboration: Open data is considered a key element of cross-border collaboration at the level of the Greater Region. Luxembourg contributes in particular to the GIS-GR initiative, which publishes open geographical data on the Greater Region.
- The challenges of the Luxembourgish society: housing, mobility, energy crisis, public health, global warming... to be able to manage these complex problems, it is necessary to be able to study them in the most detailed way possible, by having high quality data. These subjects being linked and co-dependent at both regional and European levels, the availability of adequate data allows research actors to define new solutions. Indeed, the main success stories of the Luxembourgish Open data portal can be found in these contexts: in 2022, the most visited datasets were related to health, housing and mobility.
Reuse, the tip of the iceberg
One of the goals of publishing Open data is to stimulate reuse. Every re-use is in itself a creation of value. These re-uses are listed as far as possible on the data.public.lu platform in its "re-uses" section. This inventory is carried out on a voluntary and declarative basis. Indeed, the open licenses underlying these data are voluntarily very permissive, in order to limit as much as possible any constraint related to the reuse. The follow-up of these reuses, which are the main witnesses of the impact of Open data, is unfortunately not easy.
Open data hackathons: increasing the visibility of available data to stimulate sectoral innovation ecosystems
One of the main tools implemented by the Open data team to increase the visibility of Open data and to stimulate innovation in certain domains are the co-creation sessions and hackathons. Each event has a specific theme, such as transport, housing, the Luxembourg language, etc., and invites civil society and innovative companies from the Open data community to meet with content producers and domain experts. The goal is, in a collaborative spirit, to discover data, network and test the potential of innovative solutions in a friendly environment.
In this article, we have tried to define what constitutes the impact of Open data in Luxembourg. It crosses the whole Luxembourg society, ranges across multiple sectors and requires the animation of an ecosystem involving the public sector and the main economic actors. To meet the challenges that Luxembourg will face in the coming decades, Open data is considered as a pillar of the main mechanisms for decision-making and prediction of future trends. To better invest in Open data and grow the Luxembourgish data ecosystem, it will be necessary in the future to measure and monitor more precisely these socio-economic impacts, both at the national and Greater Region levels.