Data infrastructure for common challenges: why is it important?

  • Project: April 2020–March 2021

Multiple organisations in every industry face challenges, whether sector-specific challenges or catalysed by wider societal issues. Many of these challenges could be addressed through better access to data.

Data-access initiatives are joint activities and programmes of work that aim to address a specific challenge through increasing access to data, and should build or strengthen data infrastructure.

Data infrastructure for common challenges in practice

Sharing data with competitors can be counterintuitive for businesses, but there are multiple instances which demonstrate the value and efficacy of leveraging a data ecosystem to address a specific common challenge.

For example, HiLo Maritime Risk Management is a not-for-profit joint industry initiative which uses a predictive mathematical model to enhance industry safety. This information guides partner actions, helping to avoid potential high impact incidents.

Similarly the ODI’s OpenActive programme addresses the societal challenge presented by the lack of physical activity in Britain which is one of the country’s biggest public health challenges, causing 37,000 deaths annually and costing £20bn a year. Supporting the sport sector to publish timetables openly and consistently with the aim of lowering the barrier to entry supports businesses to reach new customers, and citizens to get healthy more easily.

Our approach

The final output of our ‘R&D: Data infrastructure for common challenges’ project is the Data Landscape Playbook, an interactive tool designed to support organisations working on data access initiatives, by helping them conduct a ‘data landscape review’. This process will help them understand and derive the most value from the data infrastructure – or data-related context – in which they operate. 

The playbook draws on a variety of existing ODI tools like our Data Ecosystem Mapping tool and the Data Ethics Canvas as well as external concepts such as logic models. It provides guidance around selecting the right data infrastructure for your initiative, and a template and examples‘use cases’ for developing your logic model.

Throughout this project we’ve also produced the following research reports: 

Alongside this we’ve also published a short series of blogs looking at different frameworks for designing and delivering data access initiatives.

Key outputs

  • Data Landscape Playbook
  • Logic Model Template Companion

Key outputs

Comparing decentralised data publishing approaches

We launched our report with a short blog. The report is available as a PDF or in Google Docs.

Infrastructure for common challenges: user needs report

Read our blog explaining what our report on user needs and data landscaping covers.

What are data access initiatives?

Read the first blog in our series on data access initiatives.

Can thinking about the world as a complex, interconnected system help us solve difficult problems?

We explore what systems thinking is and how it can be used as a framework for enabling change.

Using logic models to design data initiatives

Read the third blog in our series which explores how logic models can be helpful for designing a data access initiative.

Changing behaviour to solve challenges

Read the last blog in our series, which looks at how COM-B can help describe behaviour change.

Get involved

Are you interested in open data? Are you curious about how you could use it, share it or help promote its social, economic and environmental benefits? Get in contact.

Background and funding

This work is part of an innovation programme with funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.

Through our R&D programme, we aim to shape future services and promote productivity and growth with cutting edge expertise.