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Big Data Test Infrastructure (BDTI)
News article8 April 2024Directorate-General for Digital Services5 min read

Data Literacy in European Public Administration: Insights from the BDTI Essentials Course

The recent Big Data Test Infrastructure (BDTI) Essentials Course, which just wrapped up its first cohort, has attracted a broad audience from Europe and beyond, with a significant turnout from the public sector.

The BDTI Essentials Course practical use case

This initiative is part of a wider effort to incorporate data literacy across various levels of government, ensuring that public administration can leverage data effectively. The strong participation of the public sector and academia highlights increasing awareness and commitment to data-informed decision-making processes.

Are you a public administration wondering how to make data-informed decisions?

Learn more about applying for BDTI


Following the typical data journey

The course emphasised the use of open-source data analytics tools and open data, and so participants learned where to find open datasets, how to feed the data into open-source tools, and how to perform analysis tasks to enable data-informed decisions. Participants followed fictional Data Analyst Zoi and worked alongside her in her goal to find a European University to partner with on a research project assessing CO2 emissions across member states.

A typical data journey
A typical data journey

Participants dove into fundamental data analytics topics, including data access, exploration, cleaning, transformation, and advanced analytics techniques like connecting data from the web via REST API such as open street map and Wikidata and geo visualisation. At the end of the course, participants could build insight dashboards and demonstrate a clear understanding of the recommended next steps for the project.


The importance of a data-informed public sector

Several key European legislative frameworks and initiatives, such as the European Data Strategy and the European Year of Skills, aim to close the digital skills and literacy gap that exists in Europe’s workforce and foster an innovative digital ecosystem.

Central to these efforts is the Big Data Test Infrastructure (BDTI), providing an environment with open-source solutions, diverse, open data sources, and cloud infrastructure for analysing public data. The BDTI helps tackle the skills gap while empowering organisations to leverage data for informed decisions, facilitating the transition to a data-driven ecosystem— boosting innovation, productivity, and competitiveness across sectors, contributing to Europe's digital transformation and economic growth. The BDTI Essentials Course, in this context, serves as a critical tool in empowering public servants with the skills needed to navigate and harness the power of data.

In practical terms, data analytics has led to tangible improvements in public services. For example, in the mobility sector, data has been instrumental in optimising public transport networks and improving commuter experiences. In the environmental field, data-driven projects have enhanced everything from monitoring air and water quality to supporting the creation of an environmentally friendly food system, contributing to better-informed conservation strategies.


The legislative context

BDTI is funded by the Digital Europe Programme, which is focused on bringing digital technology to businesses, citizens and public administrations to accelerate the economic recovery and shape the digital transformation of Europe's society and economy.

The Open Data Directive

The Directive on Open Data and the re-use of Public Information, also known as the Open Directive, entered into force on 16 July 2019, replacing the Public Sector Information (PSI) Directive. It provides common rules for a European market for government-held data and identifies a list of high-value datasets to be published for free and available via API.

European Data Strategy

The European Data Strategy, adopted by the European Commission in 2020, aims to create a single market for data, ensuring that more data becomes available for use in the economy and society in Europe, keeping the companies and individuals who generate the data in control of them.

Data Governance Act

In response to the public consultation on the European Strategy for Data, the European Commission published the Data Governance Act in 2020, which intends to foster a framework to facilitate data sharing across the EU and between sectors. The Data Governance Act will also support the development of common European data spaces in sectors such as health, environment, energy, agriculture, mobility, finance, manufacturing, public administration and skills.

Data Act

The Data Act complements the Data Governance Act, regulating who can access and use data generated in the EU in all economic sectors and under which conditions.

The Interoperability Act

The Interoperable Europe Act aims to ensure the seamless delivery of public services across borders and to provide support measures promoting innovation and enhancing skills and knowledge exchange.

It will establish an interoperability governance structure with a view to creating an ecosystem of shared interoperability solutions for the EU's public sector.

The AI Act

The Al Act is the first legal framework on Al, which addresses the risks of Al and positions Europe to play a leading role globally. It aims to provide Al developers and deployers with clear requirements and obligations regarding specific uses of Al.


What comes Next?

The course's recordings and slides have been made accessible online, and looking ahead, the BDTI team plans to make the course available on-demand, broadening access and facilitating ongoing education. And the development of additional courses focused on open-source tools and open data is in the pipeline. This forward-looking approach signifies a commitment to ensuring that the public sector remains at the forefront of Europe's digital revolution.

If you have thoughts or ideas on how we can improve or what we should focus on next, please share them with us here.


Learn more about BDTI 

If you represent a public administration and are considering applying for BDTI, you can learn more about the application process.  

Apply for BDTI

You're also eligible if you work in the private sector academia or are a student keen to collaborate with a public administration on a data project. Get in touch with us to get started.  

We've created resources to elaborate on and inspire concrete BDTI use cases. Check out the BDTI Value Demonstrator and the BDTI Canva

If you want to discuss your use case with us, we'd be delighted to set up a short information session with you and your team. Send us a message via the contact form on our website and we'll get back to you straight away to schedule a meeting.

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Publication date
8 April 2024
Directorate-General for Digital Services