Communities, societies and industries across the world face challenges. Some are at a global scale, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, while others are local such as municipal disaster response. Many of these challenges require, in part, better or more appropriate access to data. As part of the Open Data Institute (ODI)’s ‘Data infrastructure for common challenges’ project we have been exploring how data access initiatives – joint activities and programmes of work that address a specific challenge by improving access to data – are developing the data infrastructure they need to tackle specific challenges. Our research so far has focused on the needs of those who are designing new data access initiatives. This report is a summary of our initial user needs research on data access initiatives. It reviews design tools and outlines how different data access initiatives have embedded them into their design. Our intention is to share insights into the challenges these initiatives encounter and how these tools can be useful to help them build the infrastructure they need to be successful. This report is not a set of recommendations, but represents our desire to ‘work in the open’: to share the approach and what we have learned, summarise our research to date and, more importantly, to collect external feedback on our insights and approach. If you want to share feedback by email or would like to get in touch, contact the ‘Infrastructure for common challenges’ project team at [email protected].