The University of Southampton

Computer scientists improve open data accessibility to drive innovation across Europe

Published: 10 April 2018
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Researchers from the University of Southampton will help ease access to over 800,000 datasets across Europe as part of a three-year contract funded by the European Commission.

Open data experts in Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) will continue their partnership with a continental consortium working on the European Data Portal, a platform that harvests the metadata of public sector information across 34 nations.

The contract renewal, worth several million Euros, will drive ongoing development of the portal along with related data economy studies and consulting services. The project will tap into Southampton’s extensive expertise in the field to improve current human-data interaction, helping entrepreneurs and businesses exploit the resources to extract maximum insight and value.

Professor Elena Simperl, from Southampton’s Web and Internet Science research group says, “The European Data Portal has made a huge quantity of data available – and this number will only increase – however there is a risk that if there isn’t an effective search tool then users will struggle to find data that is relevant. We want to improve the usefulness of the portal by improving the way people search through and make sense of datasets.

“Researchers in ECS have done a lot of work to publish open government data in the UK and I hope this new contract will provide the opportunity for lessons we have learned through national open data portals to benefit other EU countries.”

A study published by consortium partner Capgemini in 2015 estimated the market size for open data in Europe would increase by around 37% to €75.7 billion by 2020. Public sector information made available through the European Data Portal includes figures on business, defence, education, health and transport.

Research Fellow Dr Luis-Daniel Ibáñez and Senior Research Assistant Johanna Walker will be part of Southampton’s contribution to the new contract.

“This prestigious project confirms the position we have in open government data and is important because of how it ties to other ECS research that is understanding how people engage with data and evidence,” Elena says. “Southampton has been at the forefront of the open data movement internationally and I look forward to seeing this continue for the next three years and beyond.”

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