9 May 2019
SDSN TReNDS Reflects on Lessons Learned on Data Collaboration
Photo by Markus Spiske
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The brief presents an analytical framework to organize data sharing agreements around the “why, what, who, when and where” conceptual categories.

The brief stresses that data collaboration agreements or activities should be founded on the basis of trust, which generally takes time to develop.

April 2019: The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Thematic Research Network on Data and Statistics (TReNDS) shared initial insights from the work of Contracts for Data Collaboration (C4DC). The brief from TReNDS highlights benefits of data collaboration and presents an analytical framework to organize data-sharing agreements (DSAs).

The brief, titled ‘Partnerships Founded on Trust: Introducing Contracts for Data Collaboration (C4DC),’ says that data collaboration can unlock information to strengthen public decision-making and inform a wider range of decision-making. The authors explain that each party that receives data brings its own context and meaning to the same data, facilitating additional decisions. This process converts “data to knowledge to action.”

In the analytical framework for DSAs presented in the brief, “why, what, who, when and where” categories are used to help data collaborations engage with and address the complexity of their agreements, as follows:

  • Why share data? What is the purpose and context of the data collaboration? What is the scope and limitations?
  • What data is being shared? What are the formats, sources and technical requirements of the data?
  • Who is party to the DSA? How is the relationship managed and how are privacy, risk and security issues handled?
  • When will data actions occur? When does the agreement begin and conclude? When are updates provided?
  • Where are data being shared to and from? Do international laws or other jurisdictional issues apply? Are data presented in publications or disseminated in other ways?

The brief stresses that data collaboration agreements or activities should be founded on the basis of trust, which generally takes time to develop through negotiations or discussions. As an example, the brief shares the experience of the Centro de Pensamiento Estratégico Internacional (Cepei), which piloted a project with the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce to reconcile local data sources, with the support of SDSN TReNDS. It took Cepei six months to negotiate the one-and-a-half-page agreement, and only two months to analyze the data. The brief cites similar examples of the time it takes to negotiate DSAs; in an example involving three partners the negotiation took a year.

On next steps, the brief reflects that the C4DC partnership has made progress in developing the analytical framework and understanding user needs. Next, the authors observe, collecting agreements from different sectors, domains and parts of the world and analyzing them for common terms can contribute to increased understanding of shared challenges around the “why, what, who, when and where” of data collaboration.

An additional next step is to design and build an online repository and resource center to house agreements and additional supplementary collaboration materials and tools. The brief further recommends engaging with user groups to gather feedback and develop case studies that explain when and how DSAs are, and could be, effectively applied for maximum impact and with minimum risk. The brief concludes by inviting public and private organizations to contribute sample agreements related to data collaboration.

C4DC is a partnership between SDSN TReNDS, the University of Washington’s (UW) Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Governance Lab at New York University (GovLab). The partnership aims to better understand the opportunities and challenges in data collaboratives. [Publication: Partnerships founded on trust: Introducing Contracts for Data Collaboration (C4DC)]

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