The civil service plays a special role in the data economy. They collect loads of data. And they have an urgent need to understand social trends – and respond to them quickly and effectively. For this reason, policymakers have begun a fascinating and ongoing debate – how can we use the reams of available public data – the population records, business statistics, property registries, public-health system data – to deliver better services to citizens and to anticipate and be ready for coming crises? How can we do all of this in a robustly democratic environment with full respect for privacy safeguards and public accountability?

There is a growing body of use-cases on this: Barcelona’s cutting-edge data-management; Milan’s commitment to data transparency and the Netherlands’ efforts to tear down internal silos and use data analytics directly in government decision making. The Lisbon Council is committed to working with these and other leading public administrations to explore best practice and “deep dive” on the crucial question: how can public data deliver better policy? And how can better policy deliver better lives?