Research Institutions

How can data be shared whilst maintaining trust?

Data Trust Pilot
Open Data Institute, Greater London Authority, Royal Borough of Greenwich
January 2019 - March 2019

Data trusts have captured the imagination of the data and technology community as a way to increase access to data and public trust in how the data is collected, analysed and used. Their emergence comes at a time when trust and data is in the news on a regular basis.

Data trusts operate by allowing multiple individuals or organisations - to give some control over data to a new institution - the trust - so that it can be used to create benefits, either for themselves or other people.

Increasing access to data can help people, communities and organisations make better and more timely decisions - such as which energy supplier to use, the route a bus should take, or whether to invest in creating a new product - but unless they have enough trust in how data will be shared and used then people will not make it available. There are several ways to tackle this problem, but they don't work in every context. Data trusts could be a new tool we can use to help tackle this problem and unlock more social and economic benefits from data.

The Open Data Institute (ODI) and the Office for AI wanted to explore how these might happen in practice with a number of pilot data trusts.  Involve worked with the ODI to develop what the decision-making process will look like. 

What was the purpose?

The purpose of this project was to design a decision-making process for one pilot to enable the data trust to make decisions deliberatively and openly.  Producing the design formed part of the recommendations to the data holders but also elicited wider generic learning on the concept of data trusts.

What we are doing

The pilot data trust we worked on was with the Greater London Authority and the Royal Borough of Greenwich using the data which is being collected as part of the EU Sharing Cities programme.

Central to building trust in the way data is shared and used is ensuring that a data trust engages and makes decisions with different stakeholders, including potentially the public, so that it makes decisions openly and deliberatively.

Working with the GLA, the Royal Borough of Greenwich and the ODI we developed the design of a decision-making process which will enable the data trust (in a future implementation phase) to work deliberatively with its relevant stakeholders and public to answer questions such as: 

  • Who has access to data?
  • Under what conditions?
  • How are the benefits of access distributed equitably?

What were the expected outcomes?

At the end of the pilot we produced a report on the proposed decision-making design for the pilot data trust together with learnings applicable for wider data trust decision making.