A fourth way to the digital transformation: The data republic as a fair data ecosystem

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To harness the promises of digital transformation, different players take different paths. Departing from corporate-driven (e.g., the United States) and state-led (e.g., China) approaches, in various documents, the European Union states its goal to establish a citizen-centric data ecosystem. However, it remains contentious the extent to which the envisioned digital single market can enable the creation of public value and empower citizens. As an alternative, in this article, we argue in favor of a fair data ecosystem, defined as an approach capable of representing and keep in balance the data interests of all actors, while maintain a collective outlook. We build such ecosystem around data commons—as a third path to market and state approaches to the managing of resources—coupled with open data (OD) frameworks and spatial data infrastructures (SDIs). Indeed, based on literature, we claim that these three regimes complement each other, with OD and SDIs supplying infrastructures and institutionalization to data commons’ limited replicability and scalability. This creates the preconditions for designing the main roles, rules, and mechanisms of a data republic, as a possible enactment of a fair data ecosystem. While outlining here its main traits, the testing of the data republic model is open for further research.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere21
JournalData & Policy
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • data commons
  • data governance
  • ecosystem
  • eu
  • fairness

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