Inclusive decision-making embraced by the business sector

11 November 2021, Laurent Bakker

Citizen participation is now a permanent feature of society, and so it should be! Residents are being increasingly involved in policy development and are mobilising more often and more effectively. They have changed from listeners to co-creators in not only policy development, but also in the area of control and enforcement. This is possible as information accessibility is becoming increasingly easy and effective. Information technology is a vital factor in this development and the business sector must adopt it. However, the great opportunities that this technology presents also involve great responsibilities.

European strategy

Businesses have to comply with all kinds of legislation, e.g. with regard to sustainability. As this compliance must be demonstrated and substantiated based on factual information, the business sector must keep its records in order and treat citizens as allies in this process by providing them with accurate and timely information. This is one of the pillars of the European strategy 'Path to the Digital Decade – Digital Compass' (March 2021): the digital society should also underpin and support open democracy initiatives by contributing to inclusive policy-making [...] to improve social acceptability and public support for democratic decisions.

The power of thinking together

One reason for optimism: use the power of thinking together with citizens instead of 'restrictive' power in order to quickly obtain accurate information and make decisions that suit everybody. In this regard, an effective source of data that is safely stored, interconnected and (re)usable to all should be one of the business sector's most important assets. Without reliable data, you can't make reliable decisions. An effective source of data is one in which:

  • The data are in order.
  • The data are sufficiently exchangeable to allow valuable information to be retrieved from the data set.
  • This valuable information is transparently shared with all parties involved, including citizens.


However, in practice, things aren't quite so neatly arranged. Within many organisations, a great deal of often complex data is spread practically at random throughout the various departments. In order to make the right decisions, I believe that three factors are essential:

  1. Access: data must be easy for users to access and combine.
  2. Data expertise: users must possess knowledge of data management (what data and what level of data quality is required) and analysis.
  3. Data-driven organisational culture: organisations must be data-driven and fact-based in accordance with a shared vision and strategy, including clearly formulated data needs.

Data consultants can support businesses in achieving these three factors, and the technology is not even a major challenge. The main issue is what data are required and exactly which questions require an answer.

Site Information Model

A Site Information Model can provide assistance in these matters. A Site Information Model is a useful tool that helps create an overview of all data and the interconnections between these data. For example, all environmental data, a graphical display of all objects and the mutual connections between them, and their influence on external factors. It provides clarity regarding the definitions and which data provide the greatest impact. Based on this model, the business can develop a uniform interpretation that prevents data from being taken out of context or presented ambiguously. Whenever any discussion of the definition arises, the model can quickly point the discussion towards the actual 'problem', enabling the facts at hand to be addressed and the interpretation to be clarified. Adjustments of interpretation do not influence the model itself, only combinations of data with certain characteristics. By enriching the model, you enable it to be used descriptively, predictively and prescriptively, as it gives you firm footholds regarding the minimum standards with which future developments will have to comply. This data-driven and 'data as an asset' model can serve as a powerful basis for inclusive decision-making.

Creating added value

TAUW helps society to thrive by extracting value from data. We're constantly looking for data-driven solutions that offer added value in our work and the work of our clients. We support businesses and government bodies by providing advice and customised solutions to meet their every digital need. Click on the button below to find illustrative examples of these services on our digital transformation pages.

Digital Transformation

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