<aside> 🖍 Feedback: Feedback on this draft, including from our January 2020 workshop, has informed the revised framework.


Tracking the data revolution: responsible re-use of data

<aside> 🌎 The Global Data Barometer will provide a biennial snapshot of the responsible re-use of data across the world


Over recent decades, questions around data have moved to the heart of political discourse. Private firm, charities and governments around the world are increasingly deploying data to drive their decision making, raising critical questions about who is included or excluded, helped or harmed, by these practices. Flows of data are shaping urban life, public service provision, and responses to major policy challenges such as addressing climate change, tackling corruption and improving health care provision. Companies and countries across the world are competing to be data leaders, particularly in the application of artificial intelligence, identifying this as critical to their future economic development.

All in all, data has come to be seen as a powerful resource: an asset that can be used for private gain, or to solve shared problems in new ways. At the same time, threats to privacy, biases embedded in data and its analysis, and inequalities of power created between data haves and have-nots, have also come to be seen as new risks to be managed.

After a decade of focus on open data, discussions in the open government space have broadened to look at ways to generate the greatest social value from data resources, whilst managing data risks. We describe this as responsible re-use of data.

A focus on responsible re-use starts from the premise that good quality data, and the capabilities to use it, are important tools of sustainable development, and that the value in data should be shared widely. But it also recognises that, dataset-to-dataset, and sector-to-sector, there are different dangers to be aware of, and that governments have a critical role in creating an environment where the power of data is used for social good, and is not used to create harm.

A new global study: bridging the gap

<aside> 🌎 The Global Data Barometer is built around identified user needs for data, evidence and ongoing assessment. (Read initial stakeholder engagement summary here)


The design of the Global Data Barometer responds to critical knowledge gaps in how policies and practices of responsible re-use are unfolding across the globe. It will focus on:

<aside> 💡 Setting the boundaries: a note on scope

Through processes of 'datification' almost every part of modern life can be viewed through a data lens.

The Global Data Barometer is centred on public data understood as data that is generated or used by entities carrying out a public task such as the delivery of public services, or the management of public resources. In most cases, this excludes personal data, understood as data that identifies individual people (for example, social media data) and corporate data that does not become involved in public tasks (for example, companies internal supply chain data, or data used to train computer vision models in industrial machines).

As such, in the initial editions of the Global Data Barometer we are not trying to answer questions about the extent, impact, resource or risks of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, nor to explore in any depth issues of data-driven personalisation of consumer services, or surveillance of consumers and citizens. The extent to which a country is making use of data or AI solely within industry falls outside the scope of the proposed study. Scientific data also falls outside our core focus.

In most cases, the data we are focussed on may are capable of being represented as structured text or quantitive tables or plotted on maps. Datasets covered by the study may be both small and big data. With a few exceptions, we are not focussed on image, video or audio data.