I propose to take Questions Nos. 51 and 56 together.
The overall ambition associated with the Big Data disruptive reform is to “build on existing enterprise strengths to make Ireland a leading country in Europe in Big Data and data analytics”. It is estimated that data collected and generated by companies and governments is growing by approximately 40% per year. An independent study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) recently identified the potential demand by businesses in Ireland for a total of 6,000 new deeply data analytics roles by 2018.
In that context, the Government has agreed two specific deliverables in the Action Plan for Jobs 2013 which are associated with the Industry-Government Taskforce:
- To oversee a mapping of existing and planned initiatives across Government and the private sector that can contribute to Ireland’s reputation as a leader in the areas of Big Data and data analytics (Q3 2013);
- To identify and commence at least two new pilot initiatives whereby data analytics will be employed to address specific challenges delivering economic impact and/or improved public services (Q3 2013).
These actions are complemented by nine other actions for delivery in the 2013 Action Plan for Jobs relating to areas such as R&D investment for data analytics, investment in high performance computing, initiatives around education and skills for data analytics, standards development and Open Government. On 1 May 2013, the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and I met with the six Government-appointed industry partners to discuss the mechanisms for taking forward the Big Data disruptive reforms. At this meeting, it was agreed that:
- an Assistant Secretary General in my Department would lead the public sector engagement on the Big Data disruptive reform;
- Mr Liam Casey, Ms Heather Reynolds and Mr John Herlihy would assist as industry partners in helping to deliver the Big Data disruptive reform.
To progress the initiative, it was agreed to form an ad hoc working party as a precursor to the establishment of the formal Industry-Government Taskforce on Big Data and Data Analytics. The working party, which will be chaired by my Department, will comprise representatives of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Social Protection, the Department of Health, Forfás, IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, NSAI and the three industry partners (or nominees). In line with the commitment in the Action Plan for Jobs 2013, an immediate next step is to transition from the ad hoc working party mechanism to the more formal Industry-Government Taskforce on Big Data and Data Analytics.
Membership of the Taskforce is based around a core group with the flexibility to co-opt additional members from the public and private sector to reflect specific areas of focus and sectoral expertise. The core group consists of the Assistant Secretary General of my Department with:
- The Government Chief Information Officer from Department of Public Enterprise and Reform.
- Senior officials nominated by Central Statistics Office, IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, National Standards Authority of Ireland.
- Government appointed Industry Partners or nominees.
It is envisaged that the full membership of the Taskforce will be announced in the coming weeks, coinciding with the first formal meeting of the Taskforce in July.