Image credit: Caley Dewhurst/ODI

R&D: Building trust through audit and certification

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Building trust through certification: why is it important?

Project: April 2020–March 2021

We need to be able to trust people and organisations that look after data to do it well, in particular those considering sharing or accessing data outside of their organisation. It can be difficult to assess the trustworthiness of another organisation without an in-depth look at their capacity and an understanding of their motivations. In many domains, the role of assessing these is given to trusted third parties, auditors and certifying bodies. Might similar mechanisms be applied to data ecosystems?

Building trust through certification in practice

There are currently several ways that an organisation can improve its trustworthiness and demonstrate that trustworthiness to others, including training and accreditation of staff, certification against known standards, and submission to routine third-party audits.

Our approach

In this project we’ll be exploring what types of mechanisms are likely to have the most impact in improving trust between organisations around data, with the aim of helping the ecosystem operate more effectively while reducing the risk of causing harm. We will draw on previous work on how to design trustworthy data institutions and sustainable data institutions to develop initial versions of certification, accreditation or auditing practices that could then be developed further.

Get involved

Are you a data steward using certification to demonstrate trustworthiness? Are you an organisation that relies on certifications to help make informed decisions about which organisations to share data with? Are you an organisation providing auditing and/or certification to data stewards? Or are you interested in this topic and want to hear from us when we have news on this project?