It’s really useful to be able to check your mobile phone to see whether there’s traffic on the road before you leave home for work every morning. Especially if you work in a European city!
It’s thanks to Big Data. The company running the mobile phone app receives real-time data from many cars on the road and tells you, in real time, where the traffic lies so that you can avoid it.
Tapping the potential of a fast-growing industry
It’s called big data because it’s a massive amount of data used to solve problems for a massive amount of people. However, big data can be used to help us ‘individuals’ as well. Take the armbands used by many of us to track our steps, calories and sleeping patterns. Those devices also use big data in addition to our ‘individual data’. These are just two examples of how big data is improving our lives significantly.
Take, for example, the potential for policing authorities to use big data to thwart terrorist attacks, to catch criminals and to increase law and order generally. Or how big data in healthcare is being used to predict epidemics, cure disease, improve quality of life and avoid preventable deaths.
Big data is not only the future but it also the present. The American IT and research company Gartner finds that, by 2015, the demand for data and analytics resources will reach 4.4 million jobs globally, but only one third of those jobs will be filled. There’s a clear and urgent need for data scientists globally. We want the EU and its citizens to tap into this global market.
It is a fast-growing industry and we must support it and help it grow even faster. However, it needs a legal framework that would help reduce uncertainty also for the industry itself.
Guaranteeing full respect for fundamental rights
This week, the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs is going to approve a non-legislative report on big data. It is essentially the view of the European Parliament Committee and sets out the groundwork for future legislation. In the next few weeks, it will also be voted by all MEPs in plenary.
The report is a message to other EU institutions like the European Commission and EU governments, setting out exactly what the European Parliament thinks on the subject so that legislation proposed in the future will take into account how the European Parliament is going to react to such proposed legislation.
We, the EPP Group, want the EU to embrace big data and also want the EU to guarantee full respect for fundamental rights as enshrined in the Treaties, but also as laid out by EU data protection rules.
This means that, with this week’s vote, we will be sending out the message: Yes, we support Big Data! We support the business models based on big data and we support its use in healthcare and also its use to catch terrorist and criminals.
We want the European Commission to quickly propose legislation in this area.