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Covid-19 update – building an open and trustworthy data ecosystem (7 May 2020)

Thu May 7, 2020
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Read our update on the ODI project to support building an open and trustworthy data ecosystem for Covid-19

We’re sharing regular updates on our project to support building an open and trustworthy data ecosystem for Covid-19, so you can track our progress and stories and discover opportunities to get involved. This week’s update is written by Senior Policy Advisor Renate Samson

We launched our project to support the building of an open and trustworthy data ecosystem for Covid-19 just over a week ago.

Since then, we have had almost 100 live submissions and enquiries from the community, nationally and internationally, and you’ve told us about projects you are working on which could generate openly published data; applications you are building; and data you want access to.

We are now working through all these responses using a simple process which helps us prioritise people and projects to create maximum impact, using the responses recorded on the contact form.

As we were setting up this project and since we announced it, we have had many conversations with organisations big and small. Some need guidance from the ground up on publishing open data; others have been keen to get an introduction to our Data Ethics Canvas to ensure that they explore ethical considerations from the start; and some are well on their way to organising their community towards sharing, modelling or using data.

Overall, the task at hand is immense, and the ODI is just one of many organisations creating guidance, establishing collaborations, and publishing data and knowledge. Rather than attempting centralisation, we have been contributing to existing coordination events such as those organised by our sibling organisation ODI Leeds. #OpenDataSavesLives is another decentralised, effective way of flagging if you can provide help, share useful resources, or help coordinate the response of the open data movement.

As a way to scale our efforts, we have focused on creating how-to guides, designed to help you publish relevant datasets as openly as possible.

The first guide, ‘Publishing open data in times of crisis‘, covers the basics of publishing open data and includes real-life examples, and we are drafting further guides which will soon be open for comment. We anticipate that this work will be part of a much bigger playbook as we discover what further guidance, advice and assistance is required.

Finally, our research team is taking a more in-depth look at some of the challenges and best practices in opening Covid-19 data. One of the early topics we are focusing on is interoperability: data collection and publication varies greatly between organisations working independently, and between regions and countries, making comparisons of statistics difficult, even misleading. However, being able to use data tools across different datasets would be extremely helpful. We will look at how to improve interoperability – of formats and tools – for Covid-19 data while also being mindful that not everything can be fixed through standardisation.

We are also researching the less-discussed topic of how to open Covid-19 prediction models. Models come in many forms: research papers, visualisations, code, equations, tutorials, even simple spreadsheets. We will look at the factors that make Covid-19 prediction models more easily tested, reused and adapted.

While we are starting to examine these areas, you – or your contacts – may have already progressed further. Please use #OpenDataSavesLives to help amplify your work to us and others, or contact us here.

We will publish updates here and on Twitter. Follow us for ongoing updates.

For more information please visit the project page: Building of an open and trustworthy data ecosystem for Covid-19