Data Collaboratives: Exchanging Data to Improve People’s Lives

The importance of data to improve people’s lives: As public problems grow in complexity and increasingly require new forms of expertise and information, decision-makers both inside and outside government have begun exploring ways to be more data-driven and collaborative. Several of society’s greatest challenges—from addressing climate change to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals—require greater access to data, ability to analyze particular kinds of datasets, and collaboration between public- and private-sector entities.

The increased importance of data collaboratives to serve the public good: Much of the data that would be valuable to access and analyze resides with the private sector—in the form of, for instance, Web clicks, online purchases, sensor data, and call data records. With consumers connected to more and more platforms as well as the increasing prevalence of sensing technologies (i.e. the Internet of Things), data on how people and societies behave is becoming even more privately owned.  To leverage the potential of data to improve people’s lives we need to accelerate the creation of “data collaboratives” in which participants from different sectors — including private companies, research institutions, and government agencies — exchange data to help solve public problems.

The need to increase our understanding of data collaboratives and accelerate their use: Despite an increased awareness and experimentation in establishing data collaboratives, there exists little consensus about best practices, and only a provisional understanding of how, precisely, data can be shared and used to enhance the public good. In particular, companies and governments still have limited knowledge about how to maximize the benefits of data sharing while minimizing its associated risks, such as potential threats to privacy and competition.

As to accelerate the beneficial use of data collaboratives, we need to increase our insight in what are current practices, what works and what doesn’t, how to share data in a trusted manner using data governance frameworks, and what steps and conditions must be in place in order to ensure the exchange of value.

Data Collaboratives @ TheGovLab: As part of its core mission, the GovLab has been engaged in a series of ongoing efforts to build awareness and gather evidence about the potential impact of “data collaboratives”. From APIs to prize-backed challenges, research partnerships to joint data pools, data collaboratives are innovative solutions for working together and combining abilities to leverage data — wherever it is stored and whoever collects it — for the public good.

The GovLab has begun a series of initiatives in our effort to document, measure, and deepen the emerging practice of data collaboratives. They include:

  Accelerating Data Collaboratives: A Workshop on Cross-Sector Data Sharing for Public Problem-Solving
U.S. General Services Administration Building
Washington, D.C.
Friday, May 20, 2015
On Friday, March 20, 2015, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and the Governance Lab hosted the Accelerating Data Collaboratives Workshop. This workshop brought together government agencies, companies, and experts to identify synergies and understand best practices in sharing public and private data for public good. The morning session began with a conversation between Megan Smith, U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Beth Simone Noveck, Director of the Governance Lab, followed by a lightning round of fast-paced presentations by companies and organizations involved in data collaboratives. After the morning breakout sessions (with tracks in climate, education and health) and networking lunch, the afternoon session opened with a conversation among DJ Patil, Deputy CTO for Data Policy and Chief Data Scientist, Chris Moody, VP of Data Strategy at Twitter, and Deb Roy, Associate Professor at MIT. Leaders from the afternoon breakout sessions reported back in the final plenary sessions, voicing challenges and next steps in accelerating data collaboration and sharing.Access          contact
  The Data Collaboratives Observatory:
The Data Collaboratives Observatory is a repository and taxonomy of case studies showing how public and private organizations work together to exchange data. The Observatory seeks to enable those exploring the value and practice of data collaboratives to learn more about their value propositions, use cases, technical arrangements, legal frameworks, and potential impact for the public good. Taken together, these case studies can also demonstrate the proof of concept necessary to build a foundation for future research and the acceleration of data collaboratives.Access     Contribute    contact
 DG The Data Governance Working Group:
The GovLab and Peace Informatics Lab (Leiden University), in collaboration with the World Economic Forum Data-Driven Development initiative, have joined forces to create the Data Governance Working Group. The aim of the group and its network is to develop the governance mechanisms necessary to unlock the supply of important private-sector data sets that could contribute to the public good and improve people’s lives. Such frameworks will not only allow us to mitigate the risks that come with sharing and using such data, but also to build processes and tools that can match public demand for data with potential private-sector data suppliers.Access     Contribute     contact
  The Data Collaboration Toolkit:
Over the coming weeks and months, the GovLab will work with partners to develop the first iteration of a practical toolkit for those aiming to create new data collaboratives or accelerate those already in place. By adopting an agile and human-centered methodology, we will work closely with companies, public agencies, and research institutions that have expressed the need for such a toolkit to help them overcome the challenges of collaborating on data.Access     Contribute     contact

2 Responses to “Data Collaboratives: Exchanging Data to Improve People’s Lives”

  1. Natalie Taylor December 30, 2015 at 9:32 am #

    I am a Masters of Architecture student at Queens University Belfast. At the moment I am researching for my dissertation how technology and big data can be used to transform cities and accelerate collaborative consumption using mobile phone applications in particular. At the moment I am trying to get some feedback on how others feel about this topic. I have listed some questions below. Don’t worry if you do not answer all, all I ask is for a little feedback.

    1. To your knowledge does collaborative consumption directly relate to Big data? Expand.

    2. Smartphones produce a huge volume of data every day, Is this data sufficient in creating facts and figures to aid decision making or is it merely a component within the ecosystem?

    3. In the last year have you contributed to collaborative consumption? Shared, borrowed or rented? To friends or strangers? What kind for assets?

    4. Can the use of data really implement changes and improve life within the city?

    5. Other comments

    Thank you very much for your time.

    Natalie Taylor

  2. Erick Mgina October 27, 2016 at 4:27 pm #

    Hi Natalie
    Yes use of data implement changes and improve life within the city, if you have a proper system of data collection , management and analysis will improve the life of the city, for example using the hospital data in a city you can know which diseases are more prevalent in that city, what is the source of the diseases, which street have higher prevalence, what type of individual are more affected(children, adult, women, men) and the reasons why it is so, you can use that information decide on which measures you need to take to control the diseases. in so doing you improve the the life of the people in the city.

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