Stakeholders discuss how to address positive and negative impacts of big data in the research roadmapping workshop

One of the primary goals of the BYTE project is to devise a research and
policy roadmap that provides incremental steps necessary to achieve the
BYTE vision and guidelines to assist industry and scientists to address
externalities in order to improve innovation and competitiveness.

The research roadmap focuses on what research, knowledge, technologies
or skills are necessary in order to capture the economic and social
benefits associated with the use of big data. It considers the positive
and negative externalities and social impacts associated with big data,
previously identified and analysed in the BYTE project.

Another important aim of the present roadmap is to lead to action and
collaboration among the BYTE Big Data Community members, who should
adopt and update the roadmap after completion of the BYTE project.

In our last workshop, collocated with the European Data Forum 2016 in
Eindhoven, more than 30 participants discussed, validated and
prioritised research topics to capture the positive societal impacts of
big data and diminish the negative ones. The workshop also witnessed the
foundation and launch of the BYTE Big Data Community.

The next roadmapping workshop will focus on the policy aspects, and will
take place again in Eindhoven in September. It will be followed by the
first BYTE Big Data Community workshop, co-located with the BDVA Summit
in Valencia, Spain, next November. You are warmly invited!

BYTE session at the 4th GEOSS Science and Technology Stakeholder Workshop


BYTE representatives attended the 4th GEOSS Science and Technology Stakeholder Workshop, held on March 24-26 2015, in Norfolk (VA), USA. There they gathered first-hand feedback from the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) community, which contributed to the BYTE environment case study on Earth and space observation portals and associated initiatives.

For a decade now, GEO has been driving the interoperability of many thousands of individual space-based, airborne and in-situ Earth observations around the world. These separate systems often yield snapshot assessments, leading to critical gaps in scientific understanding. GEO is addressing such gaps by coordinating the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), a global network of content providers providing easy, open access to organized observations that enable an increasingly integrated view of our changing Earth. This fuller picture is an indispensable foundation for sound decision making for a number of different users ranging from developed and developing nations battling drought and disease, to emergency managers making evacuation decisions, farmers making planting choices, companies evaluating energy costs, and coastal communities concerned about sea-level rise etc.

In addition to policy and governance issues, GEOSS poses formidable scientific and technological challenges. The Science and Technology Stakeholders of GEO are collaborating to address these in a number of ways, including a series of workshops focused on the scope of the future GEOSS and the concepts and technologies that can support a future-oriented “system of systems”, providing observations and practice-relevant knowledge to a wide range of users. Participants in the workshops include technology developers; experts in data management, integration, and analysis; developers of knowledge systems; and user representatives.

The organizers of the 4th GEOSS S&T Stakeholder Workshop offered BYTE the opportunity to chair one of the breakout sessions of the rich two-day program.  This was the Breakout Session 1.1: Cloud and Big Data Revolutions, on Wednesday 25 March. CNR’s researcher Lorenzo Bigagli, who leads the effort on establishing the BYTE Big Data Community, presented the project and moderated the discussion based on the attendees’ own experience, starting from the very fundamental question: what are the potential values, not only to future GEOSS, but also to anyone who might benefit, from exploiting the data super nova in the environment sector?

Bob Chen, from Columbia University, acted as rapporteur for the session summarized the discussion in the following points:

GEOSS has always been about big data in environment sector!

  • IoT and IoP—and the “Internet of Location”—are already becoming part of GEOSS.
  • GEOSS needs to facilitate new data integration and to address policies, privacy : e.g., anonymization, processes to control use, legal interoperability, quality labelling/trust processes.
  • E-infrastructure is needed to support open access, legal interoperability, education/changing data culture.
  • Benefits of using data to support Society inevitably come with risks of potential misuse of data; GEO has to be supportive and follow member policies.

All the feedback gathered has been integrated into BYTE Deliverable 3.2, Case Study Reports on positive and negative externalities within the environment sector, and is hence contributing to shaping the BYTE vision, roadmap, and methodology.

The event has also been a useful opportunity for project dissemination, in particular through the BYTE Fact and Info Sheets, in preparation for the third phase of the project. This is where the BYTE Big Data Community will be launched among the European Big Data stakeholders, including the geospatial sector and those who participate in the GEOSS Science & Technology Stakeholder network.

BYTE and Big data Europe to co-lead interactive session on positive and negative impacts of big data at the BDVA Small Big Data Summit.



BYTE, in conjunctionwith Big Data Europe, will host an interactive working session on  “Multidisciplinary aspects of big data in Europe” at the BDVA Small Big Data Summit to be held at the Hague, the Netherlands, from 2 & 3 March 2016. The session will explore the positive and negative aspects of big data, such as economic, legal, political and social and ethical issues that arise in relation to big data use across key sectors of the European economy. This will be followed by an interactive session to brainstorm solutions that could assist in addressing the challenges presented by big data use in Europe. We welcome all participants at the BDVA Small Big Data Summit to attend the interactive session.



Evaluating and addressing societal externalities of big data

The BYTE-project has made a comprehensive evaluation of the societal externalities and of best practices to address these externalities within the BYTE case studies.  The evaluation findings are presented in D4.2 Evaluating and addressing positive and negative societal externalities. The report reveals a broad agenda for policy-makers to address these externalities, consisting of updating legal frameworks, the promotion of big data practices through public investments and enabling policies and an active policy to keep markets open and competitive. Regulators and stakeholders also have an important role in developing tools and approaches to mainstream societal concerns into the design process of and the implementation of big data practices.

The economic externalities are categorized into operational efficiency, innovation, new knowledge, business models, and employment. In order to diminish the negative economic impacts and to augment the positive effects, a set of best practices has been devised. Governments and public institutions can promote big data practices through public investments and enabling policies, which points to the need to develop a comprehensive big data policy. The best practices concerning corporations point mainly at a need to change the mind-set in order to perceive the opportunities of big data. These best practices are not only useful to capture positive economic externalities, but appeared useful for positive social externalities as well.

However, this also necessitates attention for adequate legal frameworks to create legal certainty and diminish negative effects, which now cause distrust and reluctance towards big data. Some general conclusions to do so can be drawn. First needs to be checked if the balance struck between different objectives and interests in the current practice or legal framework is still delivering an optimal result. If not, it will need adapting. Second, legal mechanisms based on individual transactions or individual control lead to high transaction costs in a context of a larger amount of data flows. Such mechanisms become dysfunctional or they present barriers to big data practices. They need to be substituted for collective or aggregate mechanisms of control and decision-making. Third, a specific method to reduce transaction costs is to move a large amount of the decision-making to the design phase and to create standardised solutions. Privacy-by-design has become a practical example of such approach. Similar work needs to be done to integrate other social concerns, like discrimination, and to broaden this approach to include the whole range of legal, organisational and technical safeguards.

Dealing with the political externalities entails an active policy to keep markets open and competitive, where the specific ways of how a company can acquire a dominant position need to be taken into account and addressed with adequate tools. Further it concerns efforts by states to retain their regulative capacity. These efforts have to be accompanied with adequate policies and safeguards to preserve the balance with citizens’ rights and with other states.

BYTE presents the positive and negative impacts of Big Data across sectors in Dublin

BYTE panel


The BYTE project is exploring scientific and industrial organizations in Europe to gain a greater understanding of the positive and negative externalities associated with Big Data. In our last workshop at the NDRC in Dublin, the results of this research were presented, including:
– A series of case studies and focus groups on Big Data in various sectors such as environment, commerce, smart cities, culture, energy, healthcare, and transport
– Horizontal analysis to identify the positive and negative impacts, practices, barriers or outcomes of Big Data projects that are shared across different case study sectors
– Evaluation of societal impacts as evidenced within the different disciplines using the case studies and the horizontal analysis as a backdrop

The slides of the presentations are available here:

– Big data societal externalitites. Results from the BYTE case studies (Guillermo Vega-Gorgojo)

– Big Data in a Digital City. Key Insights from the Smart City Case Study (Sonja Zillner)

-Horizontal analysis of societal externalities (Hans Lammerant)

– Addressing economic externalities (Guillermo Vega-Gorgojo)

– Addressing non economical externalities (Hans Lammerant)

BYTE meets the Big and Open Data community in Vienna in the European Data Economy Workshop

On 15th of September the BYTE partners attended the European Data Economy Workshop to present the last outcomes of the project and discuss on the most important activities around the European Data Economy with stakeholders from the Big and Open Data community.

Rachel Finn from Trilateral Research & Consulting introduces BYTE findings
Rachel Finn from Trilateral Research & Consulting introduces BYTE findings


Big Data Externalities presentation:

More information:

Join BYTE in the European Data Economy Workshop – Focus Data Value Chain & Big Data

When?: 15th of September 2015, 09.00am to 13.00pm CEST

Where?University of Economics Vienna, CampusTC Lecture Hall 1 (see: room plan)

Find out more:

Description of the workshop

This workshop is organized back2back to the SEMANTiCS2015 conference, taking place 16-17 of September at the University of Economics Vienna, Austria in the 11th edition this year.

It provides insights in some of the most important activities around the European Data Economy – with a strong focus on Big Data and the Data Value Chain.The goal of the workshop is first, to overview the state of the art in Europe regarding Big Data & Data Management initiatives and its impact in the European economy and benefits for the European society. Representatives from the annual European Data Forum (see:, Big Data related projects: the BYTE Project (see:, BigDataEurope (see: and RETHINKbig (see: and a representative of the Austrian Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology   and the  ODINE- Open Data Incubator Europe presenting data-related activities will participate during the first session of the workshop. Furthermore it gives information about the Austrian Big Data Study carried out in 2014 by AIT and IDC.

Second, this workshops aims to identify the necessary requirements in terms of research activities, technologies, skills and other societal items to benefit of data value. Hence, after initial presentations on the topics of the Data Value Chain and the Big Data Value Association, the 3 mentioned Big Data projects as well as the Austrian Big Data Study and Austrian data activities, the 2nd part of the half day workshop will be an interactive session to identify, evaluate and discuss the requirements for successful big data & data management together with all participants and to present findings as a concrete result of the workshop.

Target Groups

CIOs and/or CDOs, Data Scientists and project manager from industry and public administration and/or research as well as everybody that is working on or planning a concrete data management project (possibly with a big data focus).

The organizers

Nelia Lasierra (STI Innsbruck) & Martin Kaltenböck (Semantic Web Company) with support of the BYTE and BigDataEurope projects


Horizontal analysis of societal externalities of big data

The BYTE-project presents a horizontal analysis in D4.1 of the case studies it has undertaken of positive and negative externalities in the use of big data. The practices involving big data show a wide variety in characteristics and maturity. Technical challenges often are the translation of societal externalities. 4 main categories of societal externalities were reviewed: economic externalities, social and ethical externalities, legal externalities and political externalities.

We have observed positive economical externalities (and social when the activity concerns social aims) in terms of innovation and in improvements in efficiency. This also leads to changes in business models and the appearance of new business models, which also includes ‘creative destruction’ of old models and can lead to dominance of and dependence on a few technological players. Further, despite these positive economic impacts the role of public funding proves to be important into kick-starting a data economy.

The risk for negative impacts on important social values could also be observed. In most case studies (potential) negative effects on privacy were reported, while several case studies mentioned the risk for equality and new risks for discriminatory practices. Trust was often also an issue, where the risk for manipulation and exploitation leads to distrust and withdrawal. This points to the need for developing practices, including but not limited to legal frameworks, which can assure a proper balance and thereby establish trust. In this respect both data protection and intellectual property rights are important legal frameworks, but often acting as a barrier to big data. In general both frameworks were considered outdated and too restrictive for big data. Political externalities concerned mostly political economics. Public sector or non-profit organisations fear rent-seeking behaviour or capture by the private sector. Further the fear to lose control to actors abroad, and in particular US-based actors, was present widely and sometimes translates in protectionist attitudes and requirements to store data within national territories.

The overall picture shows positive benefits but also the potential to negatively affect other important social or ethical values. Important is that big data is not just a technical issue but has an impact on organisational borders and the ‘business ecology’ in general. This leads to uncertainty and conflict in a range of areas, translating in distrust and reluctance by all sorts of actors and conflicts on political and legal level. Organisational borders need to be redefined or redrawn, while also social norms and legal frameworks need to be clarified again based on a proper balancing of all interests.

Case study reports on positive and negative externalities realised!

Deliverable D3.2 Case study reports on positive and negative externalities  presents the case study reports on positive and negative externalities in the use of big data that we have undertaken in the BYTE project. The case studies correspond to the domains of crisis informatics, culture, energy, environment, healthcare, maritime transportation and smart cities. Following a formal designed methodology, we have gathered evidence from the case studies by means of semi-structured interviews, disciplinary focus groups and literature review. Overall, we have conducted 49 interviews with data experts from each case study discipline and we have counted with 6-12 external domain experts per focus group.

The crisis informatics case study is focused on the use of social media – especially Twitter data – to support humanitarian relief efforts during crisis situations.

The culture case study examines a pan-European public initiative that provides open access to digitised copies of cultural heritage works.

The energy case study analyses the impact of big data in exploration and production of oil & gas in the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

The environment case study is probably the most mature in terms of big data. Stakeholders take for granted the availability of data, especially from authoritative sources such as prominent earth and space observation portals, and there is a growing interest in crowd-sourced data.

The healthcare case study is conducted within a health institute at a medical university in the UK. This institute facilitates the discovery of new genes, the identification of disease and innovation in health care utilising genetic data.

The maritime transportation case study analyses the use of big data in the shipping industry that accounts more than 90% of global trade.

Finally, the smart cities case study examines the creation of value from potentially massive amounts of urban data that emerges through the digitalized interaction of a city’s users with the urban infrastructure of resources.