Technology | The EU released a list of high-value datasets that public bodies must make available for re-use within 16 months

The European Commission (Commission) published a list 16 January 2023 of which high-value datasets that public sector bodies in the EU must make available for re-use, free of charge, within 16 months. This move is aimed at ensuring that public data with high socio-economic potential is made available for re-use with minimal legal and technical restrictions and at no cost. The objective is to drive innovation, create new opportunities, and increase transparency by making public sector data more accessible. The list of high-value datasets is deemed EEA relevant, which means that we are probably going to see public bodies publish the high-value datasets in Norway as well.

What are high-value datasets?

These last years, the EU has drastically increased its efforts on making more data available. This has resulted in the Commission releasing several regulations which aim at creating a single market for data, with common standards and regulations, to ensure the free flow of data within the EU and to protect personal data. One of these regulations is Directive (EU) 2019/770 released in 2019 (“Directive”) in which the Commission is tasked with specifying high-value datasets that public bodies will have to make available free of charge, in a machine readable format, provided with APIs and provided as a bulk download, where relevant. In Annex 1 of the directive, the list of high-value datasets is sorted into the following categories:

  • Geospatial
  • Earth observation and environment
  • Meteorological
  • Statistics
  • Companies and company ownership
  • Mobility

The EU’s push for open data: opportunities for businesses and citizens

The datasets included in the list are diverse and range from mobility data, air quality data, to meteorological and environmental data. These datasets have the potential to provide valuable insights and solutions to various challenges faced by society, such as improving air quality, reducing congestion, and tackling climate change.

The initiative is in line with the EU’s aim to create an open data ecosystem, where data is made available for re-use in a consistent, harmonized, and standardised way. Furthermore, the Commission believes that making public sector data available for re-use will provide new opportunities for businesses, researchers, and the public, such as:

  • Companies working in the transportation sector can use mobility data to develop new solutions for reducing congestion and improving transportation efficiency.
  • Companies involved in environmental monitoring can use air quality data to develop innovative solutions for improving air quality and reducing emissions.
  • Companies involved in data analytics, artificial intelligence, and innovation can benefit and develop new solutions across all sectors and fields.
  • Increased transparency and accountability in the public sector. By making data freely available, the public will have access to information about the performance and activities of public sector bodies. Which in turn, will make it easier for citizens to hold the government accountable and monitor their actions.

BAHR’s view

In summary, the Commission’s list of high-value datasets provides new opportunities for companies of all sizes, within all sectors. However, companies should also be aware of the legal and regulatory framework surrounding the re-use of public sector data. They need to ensure compliance with the EU Commission’s guidelines and applicable data protection laws. For this reason, it is advisable for companies to understand their rights and obligations and navigate the complex legal environment surrounding the re-use of public sector data. Especially considering the EU’s focus on regulating data and personal data through existing and newly proposed regulations: General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Open Data Directive, Data Governance Act, Data Act, Artificial Intelligence Act etc. Given the everchanging regulatory landscape, companies should position the use and re-use of data in a flexible manner that accounts for new regulatory adjustments, while at the same time positioning themselves to take advantage of the regulatory environment.

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