Data has become a key asset for the economy and our societies similar to the classic categories of human and financial resources. Whether it is geographical information, statistics, weather data, research data, transport data, energy consumption data or health data, the need to make sense of ‘big data’ is leading to innovations in technology, development of new tools and new skills.

Big data refers to large amounts of data produced very quickly by a high number of diverse sources. Data can either be created by people or generated by machines, such as sensors gathering climate information, satellite imagery, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, GPS signals, etc. It covers many sectors, from healthcare to transport and energy.

Generating value at the different stages of the data value chain will be at the centre of the future knowledge economy. Good use of data can also bring opportunities to more traditional sectors such as transport, health or manufacturing. Improved analytics and processing of data, especially big data, will make it possible to:

  • transform Europe’s service industries by generating a wide range of innovative information products and services;
  • increase the productivity of all sectors of the economy through improved business intelligence;
  • better address many of the challenges that face our societies;
  • improve research and speed up innovation;
  • achieve cost reductions through more personalised services;
  • increase efficiency in the public sector.

Read the European strategy for data

See the relevant EU policies and legislation on data