Data repositories and analytics

Working Group Discussion

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Towards an evidence-based knowledge on hazards, exposures and risks: the importance and role of data repositories and analytics

Introduction
Numerous disciplines, organisations and stakeholders contribute worldwide in advancing methodological frameworks, measurements and models to support policies and decision-making in the areas of health, environment and chemicals. In these areas a plethora of EU legislation uses data, information and knowledge which are very often fragmented, not well organised and not readily available or accessible. This makes it difficult to consistently and comprehensively integrate and interpret data and information for creating evidence-based knowledge on hazards, exposures and risks (and their relationships) and subsequently to harnessing this knowledge in the research and policy making processes at both an EU and Member States level. Identification and governance of data sources and their integration, data quality and metadata management as well as evidence-based knowledge generation and sharing in support of the conception, better implementation and monitoring of policies within and across different but potentially interconnected domains such as those on chemicals, health and environment has been becoming increasingly important and challenging for EU and internationally. Data repositories and analytics was identified among the six thematic areas of relevance to Exposure Science and among the keys elements of the European Strategy for Exposure Science foundation with a roadmap 2020-2030 as conceived during the 1st ISES Europe Workshop in 2018. In the break-out session on ‘Data repositories and analytics’ of that Workshop a SWOT analysis was conducted and a number of  building blocks, actions and ideas for project development related to data repositories and analytics were discussed (Bruinen de Bruin et al. 2019). Their implementation will be brought forward via the establishment of a Working Group on ‘Data Repositories and Analytics’. Its operational principles and tasks within a roadmap 2020-2030 perspective will be discussed during the 2nd ISES Europe Workshop (4-5 July 2019, Bilthoven, NL). 

Establishment of Working Group on ‘Data Repositories and Analytics’ 
Main objective: establishing a comprehensive, systematic, coherent and dynamic process of gathering, managing and disseminating data sources and data analysis and visualisation techniques to support use cases of high relevance for EU and MS policies and for advancing exposure science. The activity of the WG ‘Data Repositories and Analytics’ could serve as the backbone support to other major initiatives undertaken by European Commission, EU MS and stakeholders dealing with data, information and knowledge creation, gathering, management and dissemination cross-cutting the domains of Environment and Health via a co-ordinated, cost effective and resource efficient approach at EU level. As part of this Working Group’s roadmap 2020-2030 a number of implementing tasks/activities are foreseen to be carried out which are listed below:

  1. Setup an inventory of existing data sources, models and already undertaken case studies which have been used in EU and beyond linking environmental exposure and health data with specific health outcomes. 
  2. Identify critical gaps in terms of data, methods, models and barriers in their use (e.g. constraints relating to geographical level of coverage and detail, time window, semantic and technical interoperability among distributed data and information platforms).
  3. Prioritise actions to fill in the identified critical gaps within respective timelines (short, medium, long-term) for defining and undertaking new case studies of high relevance for EU and MS policies and for advancing science.
  4. Map the state of the art exploitation of technologies related to text mining and analysis, machine learning, artificial intelligence, interconnection of big data domains, visualisation tools with the aim of bridging the gap from data to knowledge. 
  5. Promote harmonisation of terms, controlled vocabularies, templates for data and metadata documentation and reporting, standardisation of data collection methods and development of indicators for data quality and comparability across exposure relevant policy domains and regulations.
  6. Establish common principles and framework for data sharing and use/re-use among stakeholders while respecting protection of intellectual property rights and personal (sensitive) data.
  7. Pooling together and sharing best practices for data integration and interpretation, standardised and harmonised datasets, tools, models and performance indicators that are used in policy making, exposure and health risk asessments, surveillance and monitoring activities, evaluation of intervention measures and health information systems.
  8. Setup a stakeholders community for data repositories and analytics.