Data can be enormously helpful with formulating policies, providing services and performing government tasks. This is something that we will tackle systematically. To achieve this, we will draw upon the experience of some of the frontrunners and invest in knowledge and contacts.
Taking a data-driven approach refers to the systematic collection, management, analysis, interpretation and application of data. Every government organisation should ask itself: what data do or might we possibly hold (inside or outside our organisation) that could help us solve a (social) problem? In order to actually solve that problem, it must be possible to combine data from different government organisations. Analysis of these data must be carried out within the chains in which government tasks are organised.
Data only the means to an end
Data are only ever the means to an end. This applies to data held by government as well as data held elsewhere. Several frontrunners within the government are already relatively experienced with a data-driven approach. Sharing this experience can make an important contribution when it comes to tackling major social challenges. In this respect, following the guidelines set out in the Intergovernmental Programme (IBP) is crucial.
Cooperation with the private sector is also essential in tackling these challenges. Ministries, provinces, municipalities, water boards and implementing organisations have selected a number of sample projects in which a data-driven approach contributes to addressing major social tasks.
Using a data-driven approach to deal with social challenges
These ongoing initiatives have been selected to serve as examples for the government in the coming years.
VIVET programme (EZK, BZK, municipalities, provinces and water boards)
A large volume of data is available for realising the required energy transition, ranging from the energy consumption of individual households, to data on energy networks and energy production. The fragmented data need to be effectively combined and shared. This is the aim of the VIVET programme* (Improving the provision of information for the energy transition).*The VIVET programme uses information from various parties, including the Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the Land Registry, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl) and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL).
Enhanced Enforcement Strategy for Manure (Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, LNV)
With the Enhanced Enforcement Strategy, the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality aims to improve and optimise compliance with legislation and regulations. The Ministry makes clever use of data. Data can, for example, help to better map manure and nutrient flows.
Supervision and enforcement can, therefore, be carried out in a more risk-oriented manner.
The Zicht op ondermijning programme (which includes the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK), Justice and Security (JenV), Statistics Netherlands (CBS), municipalities and Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG)
Data analyses can provide valuable insight into patterns of subversive crime (real estate fraud and drug-related crime). For example, an analysis of sewage water can reveal where high concentrations of metabolised drug substances can be found.In the Zicht op ondermijning programme, governments exchange knowledge about projects that can advance a preventive approach to subversive crime.
Poverty and the issue of debt
Various projects to map poverty (including the Association of Netherlands Municipalities, VNG)
Municipalities want to take a targeted approach to tackling poverty and are increasingly using data-driven methods. For instance, they use databases that show where the working poor live in a city or which children are at a higher risk of remaining in poverty. This information provides a basis for specific interventions.
Research into statistical patterns
Data can improve the assistance given to people in debt, for example, by helping with detecting the early signs of debt.* The Ministry of Justice and Security (JenV) is investigating whether and how data analyses can also contribute to identifying statistical patterns (and therefore predictions) in the area of debt problems. In a living lab, combined data from Dutch court decisions (Rechtspraak) and the Central Judicial Collection Agency are used for this purpose.
*The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW) recently offered the amendment to the Municipal Debt Counselling Act for internet consultation. This amendment will enable municipalities and their mandated bodies to detect the early signs of debt problems.
Infrastructure and spatial bottlenecks
Various projects concerning big data (the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (IenW), Interprovincial Consultative Committee (IPO), Dutch Water Authorities (UvW)
Analyses of big data are already thoroughly exploited for the physical infrastructure. For example, historical data on road use are combined with weather forecasts to determine where the greatest risk of an accident occurring might be. Another example is flood forecasting: data can help in carrying out stress tests and determining escape routes if things go wrong.
Taking a joint approach
To increase the usefulness of the available data, we need to work with citizens and businesses, as well as research and education. Organisations in the telecommunications and construction sector, hospitals, energy companies and public transport companies all hold data of potential importance for dealing with social issues. We are encouraging them to publish or share relevant data.
‘Thanks to open government data, we are able to improve the running of our business’
Jacob van den Borne, farmer and owner of Van den Borne Aardappelen
Students are helping to reduce nuisance
Start-ups and scale-ups play a very specific role. With their strength in innovation and flexibility, they can play an important role in developing new services and economic activities. The government recognises this important role of start-ups and scale-ups; the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy has been focusing on this in its policies for years. In the ‘Start-up in Residence’ programme of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, governments and start-ups collaborate to find innovative ways to solve social problems. Challenges are used to motivate start-ups to come up with a solution for social issues, such as removing natural gas connections from our homes.
Collecting and sharing the lessons learned from the example projects
- We are taking a data-driven approach to several important social issues; energy transition, manure surplus, subversive crime, poverty and debt issues, as well as infrastructural and environmental bottlenecks. The Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations is gathering the lessons learned from this and taking the initiative to share this knowledge at conferences and meetings, in knowledge networks and via online publications (including digitaleoverheid.nl). (2019 and onwards)
Working with start-ups
- Ministries, municipalities and provinces are working together with start-ups in the Start-up in Residence programme: via challenges they are given the task of using data to solve social challenges. (2019 to 2021)