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Open data could turn Europe’s digital desert into a digital rainforest – Prof. Dirk Helbing

Europe needs to pursue a different strategy from Silicon Valley if it is going to reap the social and economic benefits of big data, according to Dirk Helbing, Professor of Computational Social Science at ETH Zurich, who aims to create an open, real-time data stream from the Internet of Things.

What opportunities does big data present for Europe?
‘I’d say it’s impossible to catch up with companies like Amazon or Twitter or Facebook, 10 or more years later, with the same business model, given the incredible pace at which information technology is developing. Processing power is doubling every 18 months and data volume is doubling every 12 months, which means that in just a year we are producing literally as much data as in all the years before. It’s just unimaginable.

‘If we want to be competitive, Europe needs to find its own way. How can we differentiate ourselves and make things better? I believe Europe should not engage in the locked data strategy that we see in all these huge IT giants. Instead, Europe should engage in open data, open innovation, and value-sensitive design, particularly approaches that support informational self-determination. So everyone can use this data, generate new kinds of data, and build applications on top. This is going to create ever more possibilities for everyone else, so in a sense that will turn a digital desert into a digital rainforest full of opportunities for everyone, with a rich information ecosystem.’

Read the full article in the Horizon magazine