At the ODI, we are working with the UK government’s Office for AI to pilot the UK's first data trusts over the next few months. The pilots will cover data collected, shared and used in a number of different contexts to establish if this new approach is useful in managing and safeguarding data, for instance, data about cities, the environment, biodiversity, and transport.

We know that other people and organisations are working on data trusts too, and we plan to set up a working group to see if we can all learn together. Sign up to join the group at the bottom of this blog by 7 January 2019.

If you're not sure then find out more….

What are data trusts?

Our work is inspired by the other people and organisations around the world that are exploring data trusts and other data access models that can help build an open and trustworthy data ecosystem.

Research in our innovation programme led to us defining a data trust as:

a legal structure that provides independent stewardship of data

Some people are reusing that definition, others are exploring slightly different variations. This isn’t a surprise – there is a whole world of data access models and all of us are trying to discover which models are useful in what contexts, and how we make them easier to build and scrutinise.

Involving the community

Our work is inspired by the other people and organisations around the world that are exploring both data trusts and other data access models that can help to build an open and trustworthy data ecosystem.

We want to run our data trust pilots like the rest of our work: as openly as possible.

Being open means sharing what we get right, what we get wrong and what we learn in the process. Being open also means listening to and learning from other people, and looking for points of view that can improve our work.

While some of this openness happens from simply publishing work on the web and listening to the feedback we get, we know that sometimes we need to spend more time discussing things with other people working on similar things

So we plan to set up the Data Trust Exploration Group (DTEG) – a working group to help us and others to learn more about data trusts.

The Data Trust Exploration Group (DTEG)

We want DTEG to include people and organisations that are exploring data trusts around the world. The goal will be to debate and share learnings about the concept of data trusts. It should help us all progress a bit faster.

We suggest that DTEG should meet monthly. The meetings should be online and take place at different times to cater for people in different parts of the world. Anyone exploring a concept related to data trusts would be able to submit papers and research to the group for discussion.

The ODI will encourage DTEG to scrutinise and challenge the work of the UK data trust pilots, and others that we hope to start in the future. We hope other people will submit their work too. We will make time for our team to present to DTEG, and leave space and time for others to do the same.

We have funds to run a secretariat for DTEG for the duration of our pilot projects, until the end of March 2019.

This time should allow us and others to see whether DTEG is a useful approach, to define clearer terms of reference to give DTEG independence, and understand whether it can sustain itself or whether it needs a source of sustainable funding.

The work and minutes of the group will be published openly so people who can’t attend  can still benefit. DTEG members will also be encouraged to talk and blog about the meetings.

We expect the first meeting to take place in January and the final meeting to take place at the event in late March to discuss the findings of the UK data trust pilots.

At the end of March we will also run a public event to share the ODI's outputs from this phase of work. We will invite people, from DTEG and more broadly, to also present their work at the event.

Unfortunately we don't have funds to pay people to attend DTEG's monthly meetings, but we do have money set aside to pay for some travel and accommodation expenses to the final event in London in March.

Joining the Data Trust Exploration Group (DTEG)

We think that a group with about 10-15 members will work during this initial period.

We hope that the applications will include people from multiple countries, working in both the private and public sectors; and people working across different domains such as cities, agriculture, construction, transport, etcetera. We are also keen to see people from different disciplines and interests, for example people with technology, legal and/or social science backgrounds, and people primarily looking to use data trusts to empower citizens, workers, governments, large businesses and/or startups. We will be considering diversity (of various forms) when assessing applications.

If you'd like to join the DTEG then please fill out this form. All it asks for is your name, your location, your preferred language, a bit about your background, a bit about the work you are planning on data trusts over the next few months, why you want to join DTEG, if you'll be representing a group of citizens or an organisation (and if so which one) and to confirm that you are willing to commit about 2-4 hours a month until the end of March.

The ODI will decide the initial members of DTEG.  We want the group to elect its own chair and develop its own terms of reference for any subsequent meetings.

If you have any questions or want to know please email us on [email protected] or tweet us on @odihq.

Sign up

Please enter your details here before 5pm on Monday 7 January 2019.