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There is consensus that the use and sharing of data can create social and economic value for people, organisations and the wider economy. However difficulties arise when estimating this value; designing mechanisms and incentives to ensure value is realised; and supporting ongoing sharing and ‘fair value’ exchange.

Organisations face multiple challenges when trying to understand how much value they can expect to generate from the data they hold or have access to, and how that value could vary when access is granted to other actors. Therefore, we believe there’s a need to develop frameworks and tools that support organisations in assessing the potential value of the data they hold or have access to, and in identifying measures that can help ‘unlock’ it. This, in turn, requires a system for understanding and navigating the different mechanisms and processes by which data, and particularly the sharing of data, create benefits for organisations and for society, and how these benefits are distributed.

In this report, we explore the economic characteristics of data and how they influence decision-making when it comes to opening, sharing and accessing data and developing use cases - all of which are directly related to the value that can be generated. Then, we review some of the existing activities that organisations engage in to realise the value from the data they hold. Finally, at the end of the report, we introduce a prototype of a Value of Data Canvas. The canvas is a framework designed to help organisations, and groups of organisations, structure and document discussions about the value the data they hold can yield to them and to society, and ways in which that value can be increased.

This report will be useful for:

  • Organisations that steward data, and want to understand how they can increase the value they obtain from using it, sharing it or making it open.
  • Groups of organisations interested in increasing the value they generate from the data within their ecosystems. For example:
    • Cross-sector alliances where all parties want to leverage the data collected by their members, or by other organisations, to respond to social and environmental issues.
    • Groups of companies interested in tackling sector-wide challenges with data.
    • Trades unions and civil society organisations that want to use data to advance their common objectives.
  • Researchers interested in the value of data and the economics of data from both a theoretical and a practical perspective.
  • Policymakers interested in learning more about how data generates value, and how the contribution of data to local and national economies can be enhanced and quantified.