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State of the Nation

Yesterday (Tuesday 12th November) I attended the Open Data Institutes (ODI) annual Summit. This year the theme was “Data Impact”.  What impacts can we make with thoughtful use of data? I have always found that the ODI Summit provides a great variety of presenters, panel discussions and interviews.  The event started with State of the nation. ODI Co-founders Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Nigel Shadbolt being interviewed about the positive and negative impacts of data.  This interview set the scene for the summit.  Tim and Nigel made several references to the value and impact of geospatial and location data, for example, the Environment Agency publishing flooding data and Transport for London publishing journey data.  In both cases, the sharing of data has resulted in a positive impact for the public good.

Transparency and Openness

The emergence of new technologies and new approaches to data analysis, for example, artificial intelligence (AI) is challenging the status quo.  There is a need in many instances for more transparency and openness. AI algorithms are being used all the time to make decisions about who we are and what we do.  What should we know about these algorithms and how far should we go in terms of transparency?

The Power of People

There is no doubt that the thoughtful use of data is having positive impacts on economic growth, environmental and social improvements. Real success comes from people, not just technology and processes. The Summit emphasised the need for data engineers, product designers, storytellers, data scientists and domain experts to work collaboratively and evolve their data skills, for example using the ODI’s skills framework. Sustaining positive impacts from data are driven by organisations and people, not technology.

Data Trusts

As well as transparency and openness, another key message repeated throughout the Summit was trust.  We need organisation and individual approaches to stewarding data to create trust in data. The ODI has looked at how data trusts could be a useful way to increase access to data while retaining trust.  The ODI state that the impact of data for our societies and economies requires trustworthy data stewardship, establishing different approaches to deciding who should have access to data, for what purpose and to whose benefit.

Evolving Data Infrastructures for the Public Good

Data is having positive impacts on sustainability, inequality, resilience, growth and well-being outcomes.  To sustain these impacts we need to continually evolve data infrastructures for creating and maintaining, mastering and sharing smarter data.

1Spatial’s approach to evolving data infrastructures follows learning by doing, overcoming by sharing and succeeding together through data Collaboration, data Automation and data Transformation principles for data (geospatial) infrastructures.

  • Data Collaboration – working with stakeholders internally and externally to collect, manage and share data
  • Data Automation – designing and implementing workflows to collect, manage and share data
  • Data Transformation – making digital data fit for purpose

Sustainable positive impacts from data must be built on data of an appropriate quality that is transparent, defined and measured. The above collaboration, automation and transformation principles enable organisations to effectively and efficiently collect, manage and share smarter, high-quality data.

Open Ecosystems for Data Impact

The drive for openness is closely linked with evolving data infrastructures for the public good and data impact.  Changing organisational and user needs means that we need to think differently about our approaches to openness.  Openness can refer to data, standards, technologies, guidance and policies. These are all key ingredients for data infrastructures and creating open ecosystems. Who is responsible for ensuring openness?  Two other key ingredients for data infrastructures are the organisations that govern data and the communities involved in contributing to or maintaining it, and those who are impacted by decisions that are made using it.  Organisations and communities are critical to ensuring sustainable open ecosystems for data impact.

If you would like to hear more about how data is having a positive impact and how we can continue to improve the impact of data, please join 1Spatial at the Smarter Data, Smarter World 2019 conference taking place at the British Library on 19th November.

Author Matthew White, 1Spatial

Open Data Institute Summit

Data Trusts

Data Infrastructures