Data assurance: Building trust in data

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How can organisations assess, build and demonstrate trustworthiness with data? We are working with partners and collaborators to explore this important and rapidly developing area in managing global data infrastructure

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Data assurance is vital for organisations to build trust, manage risks and maximise opportunities. But how can organisations assess, build and demonstrate trustworthiness with data? Through our data assurance work, we are working with partners and collaborators to explore this important and rapidly developing area in managing global data infrastructure. 

What is data assurance?

Data assurance is a set of processes that increase confidence that data will meet a specific need, and that organisations collecting, accessing, using and sharing data are doing so in trustworthy ways.

Data can help unlock huge value for the economy, society and the environment. Some of the biggest challenges we face as a society, such as managing the impacts of climate change, securing access to healthcare and reducing poverty, require data to be shared widely across sectors, organisations and between societies and governments.

Trust in how organisations collect and use data is becoming increasingly important across society and the economy. This is evident in lower levels of trust in organisations that fail to follow ethical practices in collecting personal data. Equally, concerns over fraud or data theft can undermine trust in legitimate data sharing practices.

Data practices and datasets: what can be assured? Data practices: knowledge management, strategy, skills and knowledge, user support, sharing and acquisition, user engagement, governance, security. Datasets: processability, validity, discoverability, availability, compliance, interoperability, provenance.
Data practices and datasets: what can be assured? (Source: ODI)

For data to support growth and innovation, it needs to be trusted and trustworthy. Organisations and individuals collecting, using and sharing data need to provide (or receive) assurance that data is fit to share and trustworthy to inform their decisions and support their products and services.

Data assurance at the ODI

Through the ODI’s data assurance work, we are exploring this important and rapidly developing area in managing global data infrastructure.

We believe the adoption of data assurance practices, products and services will reassure organisations and individuals who want to share or reuse data, and support better data governance practices, fostering trust and sustainable behaviour change.

Our work so far

The ODI’s interest in this area is not new. Over the years, we have worked with companies and governments to both help them assure data, and be assured by the quality of the data provided by others – we just haven’t always used the label ‘data assurance’.

Our work to date has included:

What’s next?

Our future work will include:

  • Continuing with research to assess the need for data assurance, and working on public policy advice and initiatives to enable as many people as possible to benefit from the value of data sharing
  • Creating tools, and a code of conduct, to support those that are working to assure both data and the organisations sharing and using it
  • Developing guidance for data assurance. In time, the ODI will enable the development of certification and accreditation services to support data assurance codes of conduct and standards
  • Convening a steering board across government, regulators, not for profit organisations and industry to support the strategic direction of this work, specifically to determine which sectors and use cases will deliver the greatest benefit from the development and adoption of standards to support the trusted flow of data across the ecosystem. Our initial research suggests these would include healthcare, energy and finance (in addition to environmental performance)

To get in touch with the team, email dataassurance@theodi.org

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