As society and economy become increasingly knowledge-based, data become a key resource. Data-driven innovation is transforming society through far-reaching effects on resource efficiency, productivity and competitiveness. It also helps address many global challenges, such as climate and demographic changes, and scarce resources. Data-intensive science is seen as the fourth paradigm, after empirical science, theoretical science and simulation. Data also create spillover effects and positive externalities, such as socialisation and behavioural change, cultural and scientific exchange, and greater levels of trust induced by increased transparency.
Access to data is not a binary concept – rather, it can be set to different degrees of openness, depending on the community of stakeholders involved. “As open as possible, as closed as necessary” is gradually replacing the “open-by-default” mantra associated with the early days of the open-access movement. Although opening up data can help advance the science, technology and innovation (STI) agenda, this needs to be balanced against issues of costs, privacy, security, intellectual property rights (IPRs) and preventing malevolent uses. The term “enhanced access to data” is used increasingly in relation to public sector data and captures some of these important caveats around openness.
The report starts with the definitions of terminology, scope and objectives in Chapter 1. Chapter 2 describes international initiatives in promoting enhanced access to data in publicly funded STI. Chapter 3 continues by presenting national policies in favour of access to data. The main policy gaps hindering access to data are discussed in Chapter 4, while Chapter 5 concludes with a view of potential future developments in this policy field.