Exploring interventions to support the peer-to-peer accommodation sector and the role of data (report)

Exploring interventions to support the peer-to-peer accommodation sector and the role of data (report)

Many people use peer-to-peer accommodation services to decide where to stay, whether to let a room or how to build a business. To make those decisions, people need data.

Peer-to-peer accommodation services and marketplaces are emerging across a wide range of sectors and geographical areas. Each day, many consumers, businesses and communities use them to make decisions such as where to stay when on holiday, whether to use a service to let a spare room or how to build a business in popular areas. To make those decisions, people need data.

The Open Data Institute is investigating how data can improve the peer-to-peer accommodation market to support businesses and communities, and improve the experience of consumers and users.

The starting point was to research and understand how national and local governments have sought to manage the impact of peer-to-peer letting; the issues they have sought to address; and the tools they have chosen to use. This report summarises the outputs and conclusions from that preparatory research.

Data can enable businesses, startups, governments, individuals and communities to create more efficient and effective services and products, fuelling economic growth and productivity. Interventions by local and national governments can help make this happen.

The ODI assessed 35 different approaches to intervention in the peer-to-peer accommodation sector from around the world and considered the following questions:

  • Which approaches are implemented or discussed?
  • What aspects of peer-to-peer accommodation are addressed and how?
  • What role does data play in supporting the different approaches?

We learnt that most interventions by local or national governments used traditional top-down models.

The interventions had four main goals:

  • Prioritising long-term housing (23 cases)
  • Tax collection (14 cases, mostly concerned with tourist/city taxes)
  • Improving service quality (seven cases)
  • Improving health and safety (five cases)

We identified three key areas of regulation:

  • host behaviour
  • asset/property
  • peer-to-peer accommodation platform operators

We found that platform operators, hosts and public authorities were carrying out data collection. We found that data was being passed from hosts to platform operators and then shared with public authorities; this occurred for both personal and non-personal data. We also found that data was being passed directly from hosts to public authorities as a result of the interventions.

We also explored a number of ways in which city authorities sought to manage the impacts of the peer-to-peer accommodation sector in new ways, separate from these traditional models.

While some organisations published data we found no data matching the open definition.  Some of the data was non-personal and could have been made open. We found that public authorities did not pass data to platform operators and data was not shared between platform operators.

There are various parts of the broader data policy debate that were not considered in the local debates and interventions. For example:

  • open-by-default data policies
  • measures to improve free flow of data to increase competition and innovation 
  • individual control over personal data
  • registers of authoritative data, such as contact information for public authorities responsible for particular services or lists of peer-to-peer accommodation operators
  • common policy patterns, such as crowdsourcing data
  • policy trials to test assumptions and demonstrate value before full implementation

On top of supporting immediate needs, these areas should also be considered part of the prototype development. They may help meet other needs or improve the effectiveness of current interventions.

The preparatory research summarised in this report sits alongside a broader set of activities, including: interviews from across the sector – with consumers, local communities, platform operators, local authorities and central government; three stakeholder workshops; and prototype development to test if some of the challenges we uncover can be improved by better data use.

View and comment on the report in Google Docs

Exploring interventions to support the peer-to-peer accommodation sector

As part of the Open Data Institute’s innovation programme, we are working to understand how data can improve the peer-to-peer accommodation market to support businesses and communities, and improve the experience of consumers.

Peer-to-peer accommodation services and marketplaces are emerging across a wide range of sectors and geographical areas. Each day many consumers, businesses and communities use them to make decisions – such as where to stay when on holiday, whether to use a service to let a spare room or how to build a business in popular areas. To make those decisions, people need data.

Through desk research, we have tried to understand how national and local governments have sought to manage the impact of peer-to-peer letting; the issues they have sought to address; and the interventions they have chosen to use.

What we have learned

We assessed 35 different approaches to intervention from around the world to understand: which approaches are implemented or discussed; what aspects of peer-to-peer accommodation are addressed and how; and, the role data plays in supporting the different approaches. We did not assess whether the interventions were appropriate or not: our goal in this part of our research was to increase our understanding of what local and national governments have decided to do, why and how.

Most interventions by local or national authorities had four main goals:

  • Prioritising long-term housing (23 cases)
  • Tax collection (14 cases, mostly concerned with tourist/city taxes)
  • Improving service quality (seven cases)
  • Improving health and safety (five cases)

We identified three key areas of regulation: host behaviour; the property/room itself; and peer-to-peer accommodation platform operators.

Data related to these interventions is collected by a range of actors, including platform operators, hosts and public authorities. We found examples of both personal and non-personal data shared between hosts, platform operators and public authorities, but we found limited examples of data being made publicly available.

Although we found some good examples of data sharing, various elements of the broader data policy debate, such as open-by-default data policies; measures to improve the free flow of data to boost competition and innovation; individual control over personal data; and registers of authoritative data, were not considered in the local debates and interventions we explored. As well as improving the effectiveness of current interventions and related needs, these are all areas that may support new approaches.

Next Steps

As part of the overall research, the ODI has been engaging with key stakeholders in the sector through interviews and workshops, including with: platform operators; platform users; estate agents; renters’ associations; local authorities; and blue light services. We also organised three workshops in partnership with the ODINode network: in London, Cardiff and Dundee. This approach gave us a firsthand overview of different user experiences as well as the main topics of interest for people involved in the sector (looking at the general economic, social, housing, and safety aspects), while also testing our findings as we developed them.

Our report, User analysis of peer-to-peer accommodation stakeholders, was pulled together using findings from the interviews. This document is open for comments and contributions.

This process has allowed us to identify needs across the sector to highlight priorities for next steps.

This research is feeding into our exploration of three areas in the peer-to-peer accommodation sector:

  • Data portability

We are exploring what a right to data portability might mean in the peer-to-peer accommodation sector, both in terms of the opportunities for innovation, the types of services that could be enabled, and the potential risks for individuals, businesses and society more generally.

  • Data observatory

Throughout our research, the theme of measuring the impact of the peer-to-peer accommodation sector has come up time and time again. We are exploring how a data observatory could help to bring together data from a variety of contexts to help people understand both the positive and negative impacts of the sector. Improving this understanding will support people to make better decisions, such as whether or not a national or local government should intervene, or to understand the impact of an intervention over time.

  • Local data

We are exploring how platforms might interact with local open data. Our user research has indicated that information about sport and physical activities is of interest to travellers. Therefore, we are creating some basic prototypes using sport and physical activity data – made available through the OpenActive initiative – to explore the feasibility of interacting with local open data, and the different kinds of interactions which may happen. We are seeking to understand how open data can support innovation and bolster local economies and community participation.

We want your feedback

To develop and test things that are useful, we need to work with people across the sector. If you are interested, please:

We are focusing our initial research and prototyping in the UK, and keen to expand the work in future to other countries to understand user needs in different contexts. Get in touch with [email protected] or [email protected] if you would like to work with us.

Read full report

Invitation to tender: ODI Summit event planning and management

The ODI Summit (last held in 2016 at the BFI) returns in 2018. We are looking for an individual or company to provide an event planning and management service, ensuring that the 2018 Summit is the best ever and delivers an exciting and interesting array of material, and an opportunity for the ODI to connect with existing and new audiences.

7 March 2018

Contact: [email protected]


Target audience

  • C-suite business leaders across multiple sectors including (but not restricted to) healthcare and biotechnology, agri-tech, sport and physical fitness, retail and banking
  • Public sector influencers, particularly those concerned with digital and data transformation in government – in the UK and overseas
  • Philanthropic funders who have an interest in openness and open data
  • SMEs and start up businesses who work with or use data
  • Members of the open data community and the open movement
  • The ODI’s network of partners, nodes and members
  • Artists and other creatives who work with data
  • Journalists


  • The ODI Summit has a range of objectives:
    • To showcase what is new, and innovative in data
    • To progress the ODI’s mission, encapsulated in its Five Year Strategy
    • To present potential partners and customers with a sense of the ‘art of the possible’ in terms of the transformative power of data by presenting the unique projects and partnerships that have been created by the ODI
    • To present the tools and research produced by the ODI and its partners
    • To enable delegates to ‘think differently’ about data, to stimulate debate and showcase the ODI’s artworks and artists
    • To generate possible sales and partnership leads
    • To inspire non-members to join us
    • To provide a networking opportunity, and a chance to hear from the ‘brightest minds’ in the data world


Up to £30,000 +vat (NB: this is the total maximum fee for this work. The contract will be awarded on a ‘call off’ basis with invoices issued for actual days worked in each month. Therefore, bids will be evaluated on the basis of day-rates and overall value for money)

There is a separate budget which covers all additional 3rd party costs including venue hire and catering.

The successful company or individual will be expected to work in a ‘blended’ way with members of the ODI team – individuals being assigned to work on particular aspects of the project, the details of which will be agreed at the project kick-off meeting. Activities that will be covered by the ODI’s in-house team are detailed in section ‘2’ below.

Tender closes

Monday 9 April 12-noon

Tender decision by

Friday 13 April (please note you may be expected to attend a short face to face interview at the ODI on Wednesday 11th April so please ensure you are available to attend this interview at the ODI office between 9am and 5pm)

Final delivery deadline

30 November 2018 (the date of the summit is not yet confirmed)


[email protected] 07990 804805


  • The Open Data Institute (ODI) opened its doors in 2012, founded by Sir Nigel Shadbolt and Sir Tim Berners Lee
  • Since then it has grown in size and impact and now has a network that includes more than 3,000 members and over 43k twitter followers worldwide
  • The ODI has developed a strong and well respected brand. From the start, the organisation has invested in telling compelling stories with data using a range of mediums including on and offline content and collateral, striking design and art-works
  • Each year from 2013 to 2016, the ODI held a summit event at such iconic venues as the BFI and the Museum of London. In 2017, the organisation took the decision not to hold a Summit but to hold a party for all its supporters and stakeholders as a celebration of five successful years
  • The 2018 Summit is an opportunity to present the ODI’s work, and that of its partners and clients, to take from the best of the previous four Summits, and inject some fresh new ideas
  • Planning and budgeting for the ODI Summit has already begun and we are now looking for an events company or manager, who can take an organising and coordinating role, working with our internal team to deliver this year’s event
  • More information about the ODI is available here

Important insight/considerations

  • The ODI Summit will take place in mid to late November at a central London location
  • We expect around 500 delegates to attend the event which is likely to run from approximately 10am until 5pm with an informal drinks reception in the evening
  • The agenda for the day is still being developed and we would like the successful company/individual to take a full part in helping to shape the event, as well as managing and coordinating all aspects of the day itself
  • It is possible that the event will involve more than one ‘track’ or programme (ie. two programmes/tracks running in parallel)
  • The event may also include some displays/exhibition stands, some opportunities for networking and a range of ‘lightning talks’ and possibly, taster training sessions
  • The event will include a range of multimedia content that may involve video and audio displays, artworks and immersive exhibits etc.
  • It is anticipated that a large number of the ODI’s network and partners will be involved in speaking, exhibiting or taking part in the ODI Summit in other ways – the process of coordinating this activity and making sure it runs smoothly will be in the hands of the successful bidder
  • In addition, there will be the usual staging, A/V, hospitality and catering arrangements to make, and liaison with internal partners and external participants and suppliers to manage
  • The budget for the ODI Summit has been set and will primarily be drawn from existing project budgets, ticket sales (less than 20%) and sponsorship. The successful bidder will NOT be required to win sponsorship but will be expected to work closely with the sponsorship manager
  • The ODI’s in-house team consists of designers, content writers and producers, publishers, digital marketers, PR and media relations specialists, membership, sales and business development executives and administrative support. The successful bidder will be expected to work closely with the in-house team but needs to be aware that all staff involved will need to forward plan the work that they are required to do for the Summit (to ensure it can be accommodated within existing workloads). The full details will be scoped with the successful bidder at the project kick off meeting.


The target audience groups are:


  • C-suite business leaders across multiple sectors including (but not restricted to) healthcare and biotechnology, agri-tech, sport and physical fitness, retail and banking
  • Public sector influencers, particularly those concerned with digital and data transformation in government – in the UK and overseas
  • Philanthropic funders who have an interest in openness and open data
  • SMEs and start up businesses who work with or use data


  • Members of the open data community and the open movement
  • The ODI’s network of partners, nodes and members
  • Artists and other creatives who work with data
  • Journalists


  • General public


The deadline for final delivery of this work is November 2018 (the final date of the ODI Summit has yet to be confirmed)

We expect the work to commence in April 2018 but it will naturally accelerate in the weeks and months immediately preceding the ODI Summit and will become very busy in the months from September onwards. Your proposal should reflect this acceleration and you should indicate how many days you propose to work on the ODI Summit in each of the months from April to November. FInal details can be agreed at the project kick off meeting.


Monday 19 March 5pm GMT Suppliers confirm intention to bid
Wednesday 21 March 5pm GMT Deadline for clarification questions/queries
Friday 23 March 5pm GMT Answers to clarification questions issued (all answers will be shared with all bidders unless they contain commercially sensitive information)
Monday 9 April 12-noon GMT Tender closes
Wednesday 11 April (between 9am and 5pm GMT)     Possible interviews with bidders
Friday 13 April by 5pm GMT Contract awarded
April (date tbc) Kick-off meeting
November 2018 Completion of all work

Form of response

Interested parties should email [email protected] by 5pm on Monday 19 March confirming their intention to bid. They should submit a costed proposal (in English) to the same address by Monday 9 April, 12-noon GMT.

This should include:

  • Your approach to this project – how you will go about event managing the ODI Summit 2018
  • An indicative timeline of tasks, and time (days) allocated month-by-month to achieving these tasks
  • Your project management ‘process’ or methodology
  • Three examples of when and how you have managed similar projects with details about the budget and outcomes
  • Any other supporting information about you/your company that you feel is relevant
  • The day-rate(s) you propose to apply to this project and the person or people who will undertake the activity
  • Any conditions or stipulations attached to your proposal

Decision criteria

Proposals will be assessed based on:

  • Your understanding of our requirements – 25%
  • Your quality of service and background – 25%
  • Your approach to the project and methodology – 30%
  • The competitiveness of your price – 20%


Emma Thwaites, the ODI’s Head of Publishing, Engagement and Content will be the main contact for this project: [email protected] on 07990 804805

Open Data Day: seven weird and wonderful open datasets

Now that the Winter Olympics are over, #OpenDataDay is upon us! In order to celebrate publishing data that anyone can access, use or share we’re showcasing the quirkiest, funniest and most cat-filled open datasets out there in our very own Open Data Olympics

After putting out a call for nominations under a range of categories, we – very unscientifically – selected what we thought was the most entertaining and convincing submission from each category.

So, without further ado, here are our dataset picks for 2018:

Pooches with panache: quirkiest dataset

Marco from Open Data Zurich shared his love of zany pet names with a dataset containing the names of all registered dogs in Zurich. Switzerland’s largest city is home to ordinary named dogs like Luna, Coco and Blacky, but some owners couldn’t bear to be that conventional.

Some of the top dogs include:

  • Balzac du Clos des Pontet
  • Akosambo’s Black Massai Ulani
  • Hug me Dark Devil

Freedom of expression is clearly important to the Swiss, although there are also 27 dogs named Lola, so who can blame whoever named Hug me Dark Devil?

Feline flicks: most cats in a dataset

We love cats at the ODI (so much so that our Head of Policy Peter Wells has created a list of cats in government), so imagine our delight when we saw this list of cats in movies, nominated by Open Data Soft. We had totally forgotten that there was a cat in the film Alien…

Comic-books in Brussels: most colourful dataset

Home of Tintin’s infamous creator Hergé, it is no surprise that Brussels is Europe’s comic-book capital, with painted walls to prove it. This dataset lists the location of all the painted comic-book walls in Brussels, as well as their characters and the cartoonists who created them.

Pets in the freezer: creepiest dataset

Perhaps the most nominated dataset goes to the undeniably creepy list of animals frozen in Peterborough. Mike Thacker from Porism, who sent this spooky submission said he thought Peterborough City Council’s dataset was meant to give them time to find the cause of death, and allow owners to retrieve and bury their beloved pets.

Whether that’s true or not, one thing’s certain: those pets won’t live to tell the tail.

Does it fart?: funniest dataset

Following the viral food sensations ‘Can you sushi it?’ and ‘Will it waffle?’ comes a frontrunner in the hilarity stakes: ‘Does it Fart?’

An online open-access spreadsheet of smells began as the Twitter hashtag #DoesItFart, and gathers examples from researchers proving whether or not animals pass gas. Among those letting rip are African wild dogs, who fart as do “any self-respecting canine”, and snow leopards, whose farts are muffled by their “floofy bottoms”.

Who’d have smelt it?

Abandoned trolleys in rivers: most niche dataset

“There are no useless datasets,” Ash Smith from the University of Southampton once thought. But when a colleague showed him the list of Abandoned Shopping Trolleys in Bristol Rivers, he was flummoxed.

Someday, he vowed, he would finally find a use for that list and prove his colleague wrong. Looks like he’s managed it, even if it is simply to win this ‘most niche dataset’ award. Wait, does that even count?

Stations en Swisse: dataset most likely to still be in use in 100 years

We love public transport in Switzerland” says Swiss travel agency SBB, which is why they’ve nominated their own open list of all public transport stations. So, whether most of us are segwaying around by 2118 or not, we’d put our money on this dataset sticking around.

Thanks to everyone who nominated a dataset. We will be writing up some of the rest in separate blogs over Open Data Day and beyond, so watch this space! If you have ideas or experience in open data that you’d like to share, pitch us a blog or tweet us at @ODIHQ.

Using open data for public services (report)

This paper explores how open data can be used in public service delivery and its potential for collaboration, joint problem-solving and open innovation. It highlights where open data has been released by public sector institutions and its effects on delivering public services

The nature of the public sector is complex, as are the policy areas it is responsible for. At the same time, there are new possibilities presented by the changing nature of data.

This paper encapsulates the ODI’s research into different ways of understanding the impacts of releasing open data for public services while capturing the complexity of delivering public services.

We visualised open data within an ecosystem to identify open data opportunities in the public sector. By taking this approach, we developed three high-level patterns of open data use in public services.

High-level patterns of open data use:

  • Pattern 1 uses open data to increase access to services for citizens or organisations
  • Pattern 2 uses open data to plan public service delivery and make service delivery chains more efficient; direct beneficiaries are commissioners, managers and frontline public service workers
  • Pattern 3 uses open data to inform policymaking; direct beneficiaries are elected representatives, policymakers and citizens who want to influence policy

We identify examples of each pattern and draw insights from their similarities.

So far, we have developed practical recommendations for a range of actors to support greater use of open data to deliver public services.

Practical recommendations for greater use of open data in public services focus on:

  • Organisational collaboration
  • Technology infrastructure, digital skills and literacy
  • Data infrastructure
  • Open standards for data
  • Senior level championing
  • Peer networks
  • Intermediaries
  • Problem focus

We will develop the methodology behind this report further as part of our wider project on new service delivery models, in which we are supporting four local areas in the UK to redesign a public service using open data.

We will use our insights to develop learning materials to support those in the public sector to better use open data to deliver public services.

View report as Google Doc

Using open data for public services

By Ed Parkes and Mandy Costello

The ODI has conducted research into public services and the role open data plays in making them better and more cost effective. The findings give us new insights into the conditions needed to grow successful open data ecosystems for public service delivery.

You may be familiar with how open data is released by the public sector and then used by  entrepreneurs, but what about the ways in which open data released by the public sector is used to to improve public service delivery? As part of the ODI’s innovation programme, which seeks to  advance knowledge and expertise in how data can shape the next generation of services, we have undertaken research into the ways in which open data is being used in the delivery of public services.

Today we’re publishing our initial findings based on examining 8 examples where open data supports the delivery of a public service. We have defined 3 high-level ‘patterns’ for how open data is used in public services. We think these could be helpful for others looking to redesign and deliver better services.

The patterns are summarised in the table below:

The first pattern is perhaps the model which everyone is most familiar with as it’s used by the likes of Citymapper, who use open transport data from Transport for London to inform passengers about routes and timings, and other citizen-focused apps. Data is released by a public sector organisation about a public service and a third organisation uses this data to provide a complementary service, online or face-face, to help citizens use the public service.

The second pattern involves the release of open data in the service delivery chain. Open data is used to plan public service delivery and make service delivery chains more efficient. Examples provided in the report include local authorities’ release of open spending, contract and tender data, which is used by Spend Network to support better value for money in public expenditure.

In the third pattern, public sector organisations commissioning services and external organisations involved in service delivery make strategic decisions based on insights and patterns revealed by open data. Visualisations of open data can inform policies on job seeker allowance, as shown in the example from the Department for Work and Pensions in the report.

As well as identifying these patterns, we have created ecosystem maps of the public services we have examined to help understand the relationships and the mechanisms by which open data supports each of them. An example of an ecosystem map, for Spend Network, is shown below.

In the next phase of our work we will be focusing on how to turn this visualisation approach into a repeatable methodology to help those working in the public sector to explore the opportunities to release open data to support their service.

Having compared the ecosystems of the examples we have considered so far, the report sets out practical recommendations for those involved in the delivery of public services and for Central Government for the better use of open data in the delivery of public services.

The recommendations are focused on organisational collaboration; technology infrastructure, digital skills and literacy; open standards for data; senior level championing; peer networks; intermediaries; and problem focus.

We’re releasing the report for comment as part of our commitment to openness and collaboration. We welcome contributions (as comments in the report or via email) from those working in or using public services to help build our understanding on the dynamics of these patterns, as well as further examples of where and how open data is used. We are hoping this report becomes a repository of work on this topic and inspires further debate, research and activity.

Open standards for data: adoption, approaches and impact

By Leigh Dodds

Open standards are important to our data infrastructure. To mark the launch of new research, researchers Edafe Onerhime and Rose Rees-Jones share their findings on how people approach developing standards and what they need, and the impact of open data standards

In late 2017 the ODI launched a project, funded by Innovate UK, to make it quicker and easier for organisations to create open standards for data, and ensure that the standards they create achieve better adoption and wider impact.

Open standards are an important element of our local, national and global data infrastructure. Standards help us to publish and use data in ways that are consistent and easy to access. But standards can also help to change markets, create open ecosystems and implement policy objectives.

In this project, we have been working with organisations experienced in standards development to understand more about their approach and document their processes.

We’ve also been doing some desk research to help us explore other approaches to standards development, and user research to understand more about the needs of data users with respect to standards. The desk research has been led by Edafe Onerhime and the user research by Rose Rees-Jones.

The insight we’ve gained is being used to shape our plans to develop a guidebookthat will support data publishers in finding, adopting and creating open standards for data.

Since we’re keen to share what we have found so far, Rose and Edafe introduce themselves, their work and findings.

Exploring the development and impact of open standards for data

I’m Edafe Onerhime. I’m a consultant data scientist: I help businesses, governments and nonprofits use data to solve real-world problems and make the complex simple.

Having direct experience of open standards development, I realised there are few, if any, guides to developing open standards as they are developed today.

As part of the desk research, I found that while there are many different processes used to develop standards, there are also some common approaches and issues. I’ve also found that standards can have an impact beyond their immediate technical benefits. They can be used to create economic, social and policy impacts. There is also a gap when it comes to measuring the success of a standard and its impact.

The outputs of our desk research are:

User experiences of open standards for data

I’m Rose Rees-Jones. I research how people use things in order to make those things easier to use. I’ve worked mostly on essential services across the public and charity sectors.

This piece of user research was a little out of the ordinary – it isn’t focused on a product or service but on a way of working: the ways in which experts create open standards for data.

Data standards power the front-end services that users interact with, but often remain invisible to the end user. This meant that some of the classic user research techniques had to be adapted.

Through conversations, workshops and activities, we saw three common problems come up time and again:

  • Talking to each other, and working in the open is hard
  • The tools (the levers and dials of standards) need improving
  • It’s often hard to show the value of standards work and become sustainable

This work led me to conclude that successful standards are designed in a way that follows many of the inclusive design principles. Making standards development more inclusive may help to make the standard and its benefits more visible, and the value they create more observable and measurable.

The output of our user research is a report describing user experiences of open standards for data.

If you want to share feedback by email or would like to get in touch about our work on standards, contact the open standards project lead Leigh Dodds at[email protected].

Will GDPR and data portability support innovation?

Imagine if you could let your doctor access data on your Fitbit, or if you could use your favourite Spotify playlist in iTunes. Data portability could make these things possible
By Jack Hardinges, Policy Advisor, & Gillian Whitworth, Junior Consultant

Data portability

In its broadest sense, data portability can be interpreted as the ability to share data between people, groups and/or organisations. A company, for example, might ‘port’ data – which could involve the transfer of data, or the provision of access to it – to a third party in order to deliver a particular service. The term is often used within the context of personal data.

In the past, initiatives such as midata have tried to increase data portability by helping individuals to access data about them and use it for new purposes. For example, customers of some energy suppliers can access data describing their energy consumption and upload it to third-party price comparison tools in order to find a better deal.

Coming into force this May, the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will strengthen existing individual rights over personal data and introduce new ones, including the right to data portability. The right to data portability is a more extensive version of the existing right to data access. It gives you the right to get hold of data held about you by an organisation, but goes further in enabling you to obtain the data ‘for reuse across other services’. In doing so, the right has been described as stretching beyond data protection into other fields, such as competition law, intellectual property and consumer protection.

Much of the commentary around GDPR has focused on compliance with the new regulation amid the risk of large fines. However, focusing on the regulation’s teeth obscures its intent; as Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham describes, “thinking that GDPR is about crippling financial punishment misses the point[…] it’s about putting the consumer and citizen first”. The right to data portability shows promise not only as a measure to support individuals in exercising greater control over data about them, but also in driving innovation and new products and services.

What could the right to data portability enable?

At the Open Data Institute (ODI) we have been exploring the potential of data portability. Through our work in different domains – including bankingretail, telecoms and peer-to-peer accommodation – we have developed a draft set of categories to describe the products and services that portability may enable. These categories describe why an individual may exert their right to data portability, rather than how portability might be enabled. Below, we’ve outlined the categories using examples from the peer-to-peer accommodation sector.


CompetitiveThe right to data portability is likely to support individuals in switching between providers of the same, or similar, products and services. This concept is not new to GDPR – the EU’s Payment Services Directive II (PSD2), for example, requires banks to share payment data with third parties at the request of their customers, supporting the development of new payment services.

In issuing guidelines on GDPR’s right to data portability and what it might mean in practice, the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party has outlined the possible role of the regulation in facilitating switching between service providers, whilst articles such as The right to data portability in the GDPR and EU competition law: odd couple or dynamic duo? have framed the right as a means to encourage competition.

Whilst data portability alone will not address the broad set of factors that cause a lack of competition in markets, it could support some users to detach themselves from one provider of a service in order to make use of another. For example, in the peer-to-peer accommodation sector, the right to data portability could help people to use multiple platforms by making it easier to port data between them. For those letting rooms or homes, this could mean porting data describing their property and reputation directly to a new platform or to a tool that manages their property across many platforms.


ComplementaryThe benefits of the right to data portability will not be limited to supporting individuals in switching between providers of a particular service. People may also port their data to third parties who provide products or services that complement the data’s original use.

These complementary services are likely to include those that provide deeper insights into a particular type of activity or link together related ones. In the context of peer-to-peer accommodation, a host may choose to port data describing their property from an accommodation platform to an insurer, in order to insure their property more easily.

This pattern illustrates an opportunity for organisations to become platforms for generating and sharing value between different types of actors. In this way, the right to data portability may enable individuals to initiate this type of approach in addition to organisations that currently hold data about them.


UnrelatedAs well as supporting both competitive and complementary products and services, the right to data portability may also enable uses of the data that are unlikely to otherwise occur. We are currently referring to these as unrelated (or serendipitous or perpendicular).

Individuals may, for example, decide to port their data to trusted organisations for research purposes. As ODI CEO Jeni Tennison recently suggested, “the data portability right could lead to more people making the positive choice to donate data about themselves for good causes[…] data portability could provide a mechanism for some charities and civil society groups to engage people in collective action.”

In the case of the peer-to-peer accommodation sector, individuals may choose to port data describing their property or usage of accommodation platforms to researchers looking to understand the sector’s impact.

Challenges to effective data portability

Whilst the right to data portability clearly has the potential to support innovation, there are a number of factors that may limit its effectiveness.

Importantly, the right’s strength will depend heavily on the definition of personal data under GDPR. The Article 29 Data Protection Working Party indicates that data which is ‘entered’ by an individual or ‘generated’ through their use of a product or service will fall within that definition, whilst that which is ‘derived’ or ‘inferred’ from this data will not. A narrow definition of personal data will restrict the types of new products and service made possible by the right to data portability. In the peer-to-peer accommodation example, this could mean that a host on an accommodation platform could port basic profile information but not their reputational scores. In practice we expect there to be uncertainty around the types of data that will be subject to the portability right, particularly related to data that is ‘generated’ through an individual’s use of a service.

Jeni has described a range of other factors that may stifle the benefits from the right to data portability, including: delays organisations are permitted to take in porting data to new service providers; a lack of guarantee that data will be able to be ported directly to third parties (meaning that the right could more closely represent the right to data access than true portability); and issues of interoperability. It is likely that the scale of these challenges will become clearer as GDPR is introduced and we understand how it will be enforced.

Looking forward

In the right to data portability, GDPR introduces a new mechanism for individuals to use data about them to power competitive, complimentary or serendipitous products and services. Whilst the right’s effectiveness in driving innovation cannot be assumed, we anticipate that the right to data portability will present opportunities to individuals and organisations across a variety of sectors.

Image: Max PixelCC By 1.0

ODI survey reveals British consumer attitudes to sharing personal data

The Open Data Institute has released findings from new consumer research, conducted online by YouGov, revealing current attitudes of British adults online towards sharing personal data. The full dataset can be viewed here under an open licence

The findings show that:

Age matters: young adults were generally more comfortable sharing information about themselves, compared to their parents’ generation.

  • One in five 18-24 year-olds said they would feel comfortable sharing their date of birth to an organisation they didn’t know. For 45-54 year-olds, the figure was just 8%.
  • 38% of 18-24 year-olds said they would be happy to share data about their spending habits to help save them money via things such as new savings accounts, insurance policies, shopping discounts, this fell to just 15% of over 55s.
  • One in four young British adults trust social media platforms with their data, compared to just one in twenty of their parents’ generation.

Trusting and knowing organisations increase the likelihood consumers will share personal data about them

  • 94% said trust was important in deciding whether to share personal data.
  • 64% would share some personal data with an organisation they know, compared to just 36% for an organisation they don’t.

Healthcare organisations are most trusted

  • The survey indicates that most consumers (64%) trust the NHS and healthcare organisations with personal data about them, ranking top ahead of friends and family (57%), banks (57%), local government (41%) and online retailers (22%).
  • Just one in ten trust social media organisations such as Facebook and Twitter with personal data about them, as echoed in the report published recently by Dunnhumby and the ODI looking at opportunities in the retail grocery sector thanks to the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation.

Data skills need to be improved

  • One in three (34%) respondents say nothing would make them feel more comfortable about sharing personal data about themselves.
  • Organisations need to explain to customers how personal data about them will be used and shared. One third (33%) of respondents said this would make them feel more comfortable sharing data.
  • Just 9% said they already feel comfortable about sharing data about themselves. 33% said they would feel more comfortable if an organisation provided an explanation of how it intended to use or share the data; and 18% would welcome step by step instructions from an organisation about how to share data safely.

Consumers are prepared to make worthy trade-offs to share data about them if it benefits themselves and others in society

  • Nearly half of respondents (47%) would share medical data about themselves, if it helped develop new medicines and treatments, the most popular ‘data trade off’ in the survey.
  • 37% of people (and 49% of 18-24 year-olds) said they would share data about their background and health preferences if it helped advance academic understanding of areas such as medicine or psychology. While 28% were comfortable with personal data such as their online activity being used to monitor crime and keep them from harm.
  • 38% of 18-24 year-olds said they would be happy to share data about their spending habits to help save them money via things such as new savings accounts, insurance policies, shopping discounts, this fell to just 15% of over 55s.

Dr Jeni Tennison, CEO at the Open Data Institute said:

‘When data is working hard for consumers, it should help them make better decisions, save money, and present them with wider benefits and opportunities. This survey shows that more people need to understand how to share data confidently to reap these rewards.

‘At the ODI we want consumers to feel more confident and informed about data. Data literacy is not a solution for all problems — we will always need strong regulation and well-designed, ethical services — but it is part of the answer to building and retaining trust in data. Improving data literacy is partly down to organisations designing services that are far more proactive and transparent in explaining how they use customer data [1]. This makes it easier for consumers to use their increased rights in the forthcoming EU data protection regulations, which put them more in control of personal data about them. Additionally, organisations need to be clear about what customers will get in return for sharing data.

‘It is also important that educators include data literacy in courses both in formal education environments, and informal environments for people not in full-time education.’

About the survey

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,023 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 28-29 November 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Get in touch

If you’d like to talk to us about the poll, data skills or to see if there’s any opportunity for us to collaborate, please do get in touch.

ODI’s 5th Year: annual report

2017 was a year of transition for the ODI as we celebrated our fifth birthday and developed our plans for the next five years.

Two big programmes dominated our work. We continued working to get more people physically active by unlocking open data about 76,000 sport and fitness activities each month, through the OpenActive programme supported by Sport England. We also started a £6M three-year innovation programme funded by the UK government, creating practical guidance and tools to help businesses and government navigate our changing data landscape.

The recognition of data as a new form of infrastructure by the UK’s National Infrastructure Commission topped off a year where debates about the role of data in our societies and economies came to the fore. Our international work across transport, banking, agriculture and pharmaceuticals has highlighted the importance of our data infrastructure being as open as possible, while protecting privacy and security.

With the General Data Protection Regulation coming into force in May 2018, we expect to continue to focus on the opportunities it brings and provide tools like our Data Ethics Canvas to help organisations use data well and engage with people to build trust.

– Jeni Tennison, CEO

View our 5th year annual report