New online course launched to widen data anonymisation skills

Keeping personal data separate from open data is a core principle to protect people from harm. Anonymisation is an effective process to manage the release of data that is derived from individuals. At present, guidance for anonymising data is sparse and unclear. This restricts important information from being released safely that others can benefit from.

We need to make the data anonymisation process simpler and more achievable from those working in data roles.

In 2012 funded by the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Open Data Institute (ODI) became one of five partners to co-ordinate the UK Anonymisation Network (UKAN). It was set up to provide resources and support people publishing or sharing data that relates to individuals.

The ODI is committed to make anonymisation more accessible. Supporting our vision to provide Knowledge for everyone, as part of UKAN we recently carried out five free anonymisation workshops and launched an interactive data anonymisation online learning course.

Progressing the conversation in data anonymisation

Last year, the ODI joined UKAN at the UK Anonymisation Symposium to discuss the challenges and leading practices for data anonymisation in the UK. The event surfaced an overall need to manage the risks of data anonymisation, including liability challenges, decision-making frameworks and a need to close a skills gap in data anonymisation.

Developing anonymisation skills across the UK

This year, funded by the Release of Data Fund, we chose a middle ground between pragmatism and technical excellence to help overcome the challenges discussed at the symposium.

UKAN’s work covered four activities:

  • A book on the Anonymisation Decision-making Framework
  • Five anonymisation workshops in London, Leeds and Manchester introducing the framework
  • An interactive online course teaching the 10 components of the framework
  • A repository of organisations that provide anonymisation help and support

The Anonymisation Decision-making framework

Anonymisation is a process that balances producing safe data with maintaining useful data. The framework lists 10 components that will give you confidence when releasing data. This includes, understanding how your data will be used, legal and consent obligations, identifying disclosure control processes and plans after the data is released.

Online interactive course

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This course gives a taster of the things you need to consider if you want to anonymise data effectively. We have designed an interactive online training course with supporting guides for download.

This one-hour course is aimed at people with beginner and intermediate knowledge of anonymisation. It requires no previous experience in data analysis - though familiarity with tabular data can be an advantage.

The course is split into practical sections concluding with an interactive learning exercise to test your knowledge.

What’s next?

The next workshops will be held at the following locations:

  • 12th August 2015 - the Open Data Institute, London
  • 23rd September 2015 - ODI Leeds, Leeds
  • 27th October 2015 - the Dome, Edinburgh
  • 11th November - BIS, London
  • 10th December - ONS, Newport

Visit ukanon.net/events/ for more information and to book your place today.