The world is awash in data, and becoming increasingly more so, a digital deluge that is estimated to grow at about 50% a year. The availability of this data holds extraordinary potential for societal benefits and economic growth, while at the same time creates growing concerns for individual loss of control and privacy, potentially impacting their human rights. Balancing these needs will be essential and requires thoughtful policy processes that can approach these issues holistically.
Increasingly, data is recognized as one of the fastest-accelerating economic drivers in the world today, especially in developing countries. Similar to the democratization effect of the Internet, data has the ability to unleash innovation, with resulting global socio-economic growth. Data analytics are being investigated by governments, global agencies, and other development organizations around the world, as tools to enable and improve evidence-based policy making, in issues that include city planning, epidemic tracking, disaster preparedness, and economic forecasting. Recent initiatives from both the public and private sectors with both open data and big data are demonstrating the value that can be gained from enabling the use of these data, including insights that lead to innovative new applications or approaches to solving traditional issues in more cost-effective and/or efficient means, or new insights into societal and cultural dynamics, all with implications for policy makers.
However, these data uses can introduce new risks for users. As their personal data flow unseen across global networks, people are increasingly concerned about a loss of control, and a growing reliance on technologies that impact their lives in ways they don’t understand. Small wonder that regulators are concerned about an imbalance between industry and individuals, and moving to protect citizens from risks posed by a data-driven economy.
Both of these discussions about data use are frequently carried out in parallel and separate forums. This workshop brings these different perspectives into a single discussion to explore potential alternatives and approaches in creating a balanced and holistic policy framework. Global experts currently involved in these initiatives globally are convened to address the following:
- Specific examples of how big data/open data deliver societal benefits and economic growth;
- How the insights resulting from the analytics and sharing of diverse data types and data sets can enhance policy making;
- What are some best practices to ensure that data will be used appropriately in a trusted and balanced ecosystem, and that user rights can be enforced;
- How technology can help enable these best practices and complement policy approaches under consideration.