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Results of the Big Data analysis for the development of territorial indicators




The EU would like to use data from private online platforms in order to develop territorial indicators. Together with DevStat, Prognos was commissioned by ESPON to elaborate which digital platforms are suitable for deriving territorial indicators based on Big Data and how collaboration can succeed.

A central result is a list of private digital platforms that can provide territorial data. The project team based its selection on various criteria. These include, for instance, criteria such as an Europe-wide coverage of these platforms, data that is as comparable as possible in all European regions, and the (technical and legal) accessibility of the data. In total, 20 of the initial 79 listed platforms are suitable, including Twitter, LinkedIn, and ResearchGate.

Another list identifies possible territorial indicators that can be derived from the data of these platforms. These include demographic and societal imbalances, employment and economic development, and nature, landscape, and cultural heritage.

An important result of this study refers to the large differences between the private digital platforms. Because of these differences, there is not just one way to obtain spatial information from these platforms. Overall, data from private digital platforms creates many new possibilities:

  • New thematic possibilities: The wealth of information offered by private digital platforms is also reflected in completely new possibilities to store abstract constructs such as quality of life using indicators. The assessment of texts or satellite images or network structures, for example, significantly expands the spectrum of information acquisition. These new indicators also allow the measurement of the subject areas of the Territorial Agenda 2030.
  • New methodological possibilities: Compared to classical indicators, the information collected via digital platforms has several advantages. On the one hand, it is available almost in real-time. Secondly, the data provide information not only about a selected sample but about an entire population. Furthermore, the mass of information also offers the opportunity to differentiate the information in a variety of ways. The use of territorial indicators enables the implementation of new methodological possibilities such as nowcasting or the calculation of regional trends.

Together with other experts, the project team also analyzed data access and related legal frameworks and challenges. It became clear, that data access through rather complex legal agreements is not the primary solution, but rather a flexible approach utilizing the existing data access options should be explored.

To the final report (pdf,

Our work on this project

Authors: Dr Jan-Philipp Kramer, Dr Georg Klose, Johanna Thierstein, Lennart Galdiga, Janis Neufeld

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Dr Jan-Philipp Kramer

Partner, Head of EU Services

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Dr Georg Klose

Principal, Head of Digital Development

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Prognos is one of the oldest economic research centres in Europe. Founded at the University of Basel, Prognos experts have been conducting research for a wide range of clients from the public and private sectors since 1959 – politically independent, scientifically sound.

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