World Bank and ASI Experts Discussed Data Economy Development in Russia

In cooperation with the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI), the World Bank held a panel discussion on the forthcoming report on data economy policy issues in Russia.

When discussing one of the report's topics, 'Data as Infrastructure,' the director of the ASI Digital Development Center, Vera Adaeva, noted that the World Bank's platform is important for sharing Russia's successful digital solutions and elaborating recommendations based on the world's best practices.

She stressed the importance of promoting a public discussion to develop digital solutions and emphasised data usage to benefit society.

"We have engaged the experts who are already contributing to the ASI World AI&Data Challenge digital solutions contest, embedding the values of open data and open source, to discuss the report. We believe there is a need to follow up the report with recommendations on data standardisation, integration models, and data exchange between large and diverse ecosystems, both public and private," Adaeva claimed.

The forthcoming World Bank report defines data infrastructure as the digital one that facilitates the exchange and sharing of data. World Bank Country Director and Resident Representative in the Russian Federation Renaud Seligmann emphasised that "many countries continue to develop data policies – these are the most advanced economies, so proper management is essential for all data owners in the public and private sector."

"The government has the utmost role in the data ecosystem. Governments are developing and improving data management methodology to provide better public services and create opportunities to reuse data for other purposes. In the nearest future, it is important for the Russian government to address the data management issues that are strategic for further developing the data economy," Seligmann explained.

According to him, it is about such issues as the development of data management at the federal and regional level; the means whereby access to national data resources is created for authorities, enterprises, and citizens; coordinated management throughout the ecosystem; and updating and coordinating existing regulations, rules and standards in data handling.

Andrew Stott, Senior Consultant for Digital Transformation at the World Bank, delivered a speech about the data economy development in other countries. He says governments are moving increasingly towards national data management systems. However, according to the speaker, this is not a unified government database but a much broader system, a model that includes rules, recommendations, definitions, quality requirements, and standards to ensure data interoperability.

The system will also contain interaction models between different public authorities and define national areas of responsibility in using data, including collective data. Mr. Stott provided examples of strategic initiatives that assist the government in meeting the challenges of data management. For instance, the US has established a federal data strategy; France has appointed its first government data director, while Canada is creating a special agency to focus on data sharing for the public interest.

"Data as Infrastructure is a concept that differs from that of Data Infrastructure. In this case, we refer to data management as a fundamental data policy. Over the past decades, national governments have considered data as a part and consequence of the government's transactional activities. Now the government tends to consider data as a strategic asset that needs to be properly managed," Stott said.

In his opinion, management should not be mixed with the linear structures that produce the initial data. He stressed that it is about many linear structures in the public administration system that have to share data. Meanwhile, open data should be exchanged and shared more securely.

'The report covers government data management quite comprehensively, but there are some issues worth focusing on,' stated Mikhail Petrov, the Accounts Chamber's Digital Transformation Department Director.

"When we refer to the information systems of other agencies as the targets of inspections, we find that the unified data architecture of all these systems is not yet established: the same data may be entered several times into different systems, there are many extra processing steps, including data transfer. Apparently, the same indicators are calculated differently in different systems and do not match; the formats and exchange technologies also differ," he claimed.

"Another important issue is data quality. In this case, I treat quality comprehensively as a set of characteristics that includes timeliness, relevance, coherence, and absence of errors. The quality control should be separated from the data processing, and the data architecture within the government framework should be designed on a centralised basis," said Petrov.