Social Network Online Sharing Connection Concept

How do you ensure your organisation is collecting, accessing, using, and sharing data in the right way? 

Authors: Rhiannon Vivian, Lisa Allen, Ed Evans and Deborah Yates

People want to know that the data organisations use is credible, from a trustworthy source, and will be used responsibly (without harmful impacts). They also want to know that organisations have the skills, policies and processes in place to be able to handle this data responsibly. And most organisations want this too. 

For some companies it means legal compliance or meeting industry standards. And for others it’s more about showing a certain level of skill or knowledge in the data world. 

We're calling this data assurance, and here's our definition:

Data assurance is a set of processes that increases people’s confidence that data will meet a specific need. And that organisations collecting, accessing, using, and sharing data are doing so in trustworthy ways.

But overall, being ‘assured’ is just shorthand for having confidence in the process. And therefore in the data.

Why is data assurance so important?

Assurance of data and data practices is super important for organisations to build trust, manage risks, and maximise opportunities. Here are the benefits:

Trust encourages sharing

Sharing data in a trustworthy way can have huge positive impacts on society, the economy, the environment – and for general public good. 

It makes things less risky

Without assurance of data and data practices, organisations could get into legal issues, financial woes, and even get a bad reputation (especially if data security or quality is poor).

It opens up opportunities

Sharing data unlocks a social and economic value for the provider that’s often worth more than any investment!

It reassures the general public

When companies are signed up to a set of trustworthy data practices like working in the open, or publishing data strategies, it shows that they want to do the right thing. Which makes us trust them. 

It encourages quality control

...thanks to an improvement in confidence in the quality of datasets and data practices.

It inspires innovation

It’s time to get creative! Increased trust means people are confident in both the sharing and inspired use of data.

It spurs more sustainable behaviour change

...within organisations and communities. The more people share with confidence, the more they’ll want to keep on sharing!

Get more advice, tools and guides

The ODI is looking at how we can make it easier for you to ensure your data is being collected, accessed, used, and shared in trustworthy ways. In the coming year we'll be releasing a range of outputs to help you in your role. Sign up below to be among the first to find out when these outputs are released.

Our research in this area so far