The Big Data Terminology to be Harmonized at the Legislative Level

14 september 2016

“Quite often government authorities have trouble communicating what they mean by big data and how big data can be used in public administration. The expert community and developers have their own definitions for what big data is. Therefore, one of the most relevant issues in Russia today is that we need to harmonize big data terminology at the legislative level,” said Deputy Head of the Analytical Center Vasily Pushkin, opening a round table on big data at the Analytical Center.

According to Mr. Pushkin, big data does not mean systematized data on the socio-economic development and the environment generated by using information and communications technology that fall outside the official statistics. “When we say big data, we mean data that come from all available sources such as e-commerce, internet queries, mobile operator data and many others,” the expert explained. And this kind of information is extremely valuable for official statistics as well, for example, availability of large amounts of data can help get more detailed information for calculating specific statistical indicators. “As information changes at an ever increasing pace, statistical estimates have to be calculated more often and the diversity of the data available today creates opportunities for producing statistics for new areas,” the expert said.

Mr. Pushkin also believes that the Government is gradually moving towards electronic and digital government, going through different stages in the process. Using modern technologies and original data sources as well as ensuring information security become especially important in this context.

Alexander Danilin, Head of Strategic Projects at Microsoft, talked in detail about digital government. Digital government can no longer be regarded in the narrow sense of getting public authorities to use IT. Instead digital government involves achieving a broad range of socio-economic goals in the context of sustainable development of the country in general,” the expert said. “And while E-Government was primarily viewed as a closed system that offered effective interfaces for interaction with the outside world in order to offer services to individuals and businesses in an efficient and convenient manner, digital government is an open system with far broader and less clearly defined boundaries,” Mr. Danilin believes.

Alexander Malakhov, the Head of the Department for Information Technologies of the Analytical Center, is skeptical about the utility of big data in public administration. “We are at least 3 years ahead of the realities on the ground. We do not have the data itself; we do not have a culture of using and processing big data and we do not have a clear understanding of what kind of result we want to get. All we have got is the buzzword and nothing more,” the expert summed up. Mr. Malakhov is convinced that big data cannot generate any meaningful results until use of big data is properly organized.

During the event, the specialists also considered the experience and problems of introducing big data technologies and the prospects of using big data in public administration.