Image credit: Caley Dewhurst/ODI

R&D: Data infrastructure for common challenges

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This research and development project aims to create guidance and tools to help sectors build data infrastructure and address common challenges

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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

In this project we’ve produced a short, focused research report comparing decentralised approaches to publishing data using open standards, and a comparison of 14 existing initiatives and their activities. We’ve also written a report summarising user needs which will support our aim of building prototypes to help organisations and sectors to develop the data infrastructure required to address their common challenges.

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

Key outputs

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

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

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

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

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

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.