Access to data is vital in tackling the big challenges we face – from the earlier discovery and treatment of disease, to reducing pollution in urban spaces. Data also has an important role to play in driving economic growth and recovery by supporting the creation of new technologies, products and services.
Responsible, trustworthy access to data doesn’t happen automatically. It is the result of people making decisions about who has access, for what purposes and to whose benefit. At the ODI, we recognise data institutions as organisations who collect, maintain and share – or steward – data towards public, educational or charitable aims.
The rise of data institutions
We’ve been researching, advocating for and working with data institutions over the past two years, and have learnt a great deal about the role they already play in addressing some of society’s biggest challenges. Some data institutions – like Our Future Health – are designed to protect sensitive health data and make it available for new research and development. Others do the vital, behind-the-scenes job of building and maintaining infrastructure for their sectors; for example, by registering identifiers or publishing open standards. There are also new types of data institutions emerging to empower people to take a more active role in stewarding data about themselves, including data cooperatives, data unions and data trusts.
We know, however, that there is a long way to go: we need more data institutions, in different sectors and domains, if we are to realise the benefits of data and mitigate its potential harms.
This free interactive online event took place on Wednesday 30 March 2022 (14:00-18:00 BST). It explored how data institutions are driving us towards a future where data is used for positive economic, societal and environmental impact.
The event programme explores many different areas, from what businesses can do to steward data more responsibly and the future of open data stewardship, to lessons from handling health data and how thinking about natural history museums as data institutions can help us understand the crises of the 21st century.