front cover: comparing decentralised data publishing iniatives

front cover: comparing decentralised data publishing iniatives

Comparing decentralised data publishing initiatives [report]

Sun Dec 13, 2020
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This report explores a common design pattern for increasing access to data through the adoption of open standards for data. It compares how it is being applied across 14 different initiatives and shares insights into how this approach can be used.

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Improving healthcare, switching to renewable energy and responding to crises and disasters are all difficult problems that need to be solved through collaborative approaches. No single organisation has the resources or skills to solve the problems. Or the understanding of how to create solutions that work for everyone.

Multi-stakeholder initiatives are increasingly being set up to do things like advance research or tackle sustainability goals. For example, the UK’s Industrial Strategy is geared around four ‘Grand Challenges’, underpinned by missions that will be tackled through cross-sector collaborations. Businesses are working together to create more resilient supply chains. Local communities are using 3D printers and openly licensed designs to manufacture personal protective equipment to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Data can help us to understand and address these challenges. It can help to improve decision making, drive innovation and measure progress. Accessing, using and sharing data are frequent activities within many of these new initiatives.

However, our data infrastructure is often poorly designed or managed. This limits our ability to maximise value from data and opens the door to harmful impacts from its use. Programmes to strengthen and build data infrastructure have become a necessary activity in several of these wider collaborations.

We refer to these programmes as ‘data access initiatives’. We describe them as programmes which:

  • have a clear challenge, in the form of a specific social, environmental or economic problem that is the focus for the collaboration
  • involve multiple stakeholders actively working together to solve the problem
  • include a strong focus on collecting, using and sharing data as part of their work.

Over the last few years the ODI has been exploring a range of data access models, including data institutions, data trusts, data observatories and data collaborations. This paper is part of a project exploring how data access initiatives are building data infrastructure to support their work.

We have identified one common design pattern for increasing access to data through the adoption of open standards for data. For the purposes of this report we are calling these ‘decentralised data publishing initiatives’.

This report provides a short summary of this design pattern and compares how it is being applied across 14 different initiatives. Our intention is to share insights into when and where it may be appropriate to use this approach to increasing access to data, how to make it successful, and the types of initiatives that might benefit from it.

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