As we enter the fourth year of our research and development programme, we are starting projects on sustainable data access, building trust through certification and creating data infrastructure for common challenges, and invite you to join our team
We are living in extraordinary times. When we launched the third year of the ODI’s research and development programme in 2019, we had no idea where we would be 12 months later. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we live and work in ways we will be living with long into the future. With these changes, the goals of the ODI R&D programme – to advance knowledge and expertise in how data can shape the next generation of public and private services, and create economic growth – have never been so relevant. Thanks to funding from Innovate UK, this programme will continue until at least March 2021.
We are inviting researchers, consultants and policy advisors who want to make a difference via data to join our team.
Our R&D programme changes how organisations collect, use and share data through applied research, with a focus on exploring social, economic and technological questions relating to access to data.
What does the future look like?
Over the coming months we’ll be building on our findings of the last three years, focusing on three key projects:
- Sustainable data access – building on our research to date, we’ll be looking at how data access initiatives can become sustainable. We want to design a framework for selecting and understanding the impacts of different revenue models and identifying the best approaches to reducing the costs of operating data institutions.
- Building trust through audit and certification – extending our previous research on certification for data trusts, and on designing trustworthy data institutions, we’ll be looking at whether third party services such as auditing, accreditation and certification would be useful to increase trust in data stewards. We want to identify which mechanisms are likely to have the most impact and develop initial versions of these services.
- Data infrastructure for common challenges – in this project we’ll be aligning with the industrial strategy themes of healthy ageing and clean growth to understand how organisations and sectors can develop the data infrastructure they need to support the common challenges they face. We want to create evidence, guidance and tools to help organisations work out what data is important and how to ensure it’s there when it’s needed.
Our work is broad and interdisciplinary
Over the last year, we’ve worked on a range of exciting, innovative projects:
- Digital twins: Our work on digital twins has focused on how they can connect and interact with each other. We’ve been aligning closely with the Digital Framework Task Group and the Centre for Digital Built Britain to ensure that what we’re researching and producing complements the wider framework they are developing. We have produced a podcast and documented our workings and learnings through blog posts and weeknotes. On 28 April our Head of Research and Development, Olivier Thereaux, will be presenting our work on this topic as part of the DT Hub Digital Twin Talks Series.
- Data sharing in the private sector: We’ve explored why data sharing is so important in the private sector and the value organisations can gain by increasing access to the data they hold. We created case studies about the experiences of seven organisations in the private sector and wrote a summary report of our research and insights.
- International approaches to data: For the last two years of the programme, we have been examining international and cross-border regulatory approaches to data. We have recently published seven blog posts, which outline design principles for and examples of international regulatory cooperation around data and why it matters for trade.
- Collaborative data maintenance: In September 2019, we published a Collaborative Data Patterns guide to help people design and run projects that involve the collaborative maintenance of data. We produced this guidebook by carrying out desk and user research to understand what makes these types of projects successful and by contributing to them ourselves.
- Open cities: Through our project on open cities we’ve looked at how openness can be embedded in how cities operate and what cities need to do to develop access to data held by private companies. We spoke with four European cities to understand their approach to ‘open’ and what they plan to do next. We also developed an open cities workshop and tested this with Bristol City Council, where we used ODI tools to help them understand how they can use data effectively in their work.
- Data institutions: Building on our work in the second year of the programme on data trusts, we’ve widened our research to data institutions, looking at the mechanisms that might be used to determine trustworthiness and the processes by which they might become sustainable. We’ve also worked with the INSIGHT Health Data Research Hub who are aiming to increase access to anonymised data from eye scans and images.
We want to make a difference through our work, and commissioned two external evaluations to learn and improve what we do so that we have a greater impact:
- Technopolis Group carried out a process and outcome evaluation of the programme and looked at 14 projects in detail
- Frontier Economics carried out an evaluation to look at the social and economic returns of our work on open standards for data, looking in particular at its impact in the banking and physical activity sectors