Partnered with the Vector Institute, Communitech, MaRS, and Canada’s Treasury Board Secretariat, ThinkData Works is positioned at the heart of the Canadian Tech ecosystem.
The concept of civic space is changing. Recent technological advancements have enabled the real-time collection of data from sensors, infrastructure, and even citizens, creating a new resource that has the potential to radically transform civil society. From one perspective, these developments will usher in improved services and data-driven decision making. From another perspective, these developments can infringe on citizens’ basic rights to privacy and self-governance. In our increasingly connected cities, how will we verify that data is democratically collected and used?
The answer to this question may lie in Data Trusts. Although the exact organization of a Data Trust is not fixed, the Open Data Institute (ODI) defines them as structures “that provide independent third-party stewardship of data,” with informed consent from the data subjects. Data Trusts also guarantee that the people that have data, use it, and are affected by its use have a mechanism to ensure it is shared equitably. A successful Data Trust is a set of principles that facilitate the interaction between citizens, government, and third-parties, promoting open and democratic access to data.
A Data Trust should be a model for stewardship and management of data, presided over by a neutral governing body or board.
To control who gets access to data, a Data Trust requires the adoption of a neutral Data Commons through which data can flow securely.
Transparency is a core feature of the Data Trust, and non-sensitive, non-proprietary data will be open by default. Access to other data assets will be managed by the Trust.
Clear, auditable data lineage for a single-pane view into the way the data is gathered, used, and implemented.
Bring together legal frameworks and democratic policy under the umbrella of a neutral mechanism
Automate access to open data and provide the Trust with a distribution channel for other digital assets
Provide granular control and permission structures to the Data Trust and general public
Distribute, use, and reuse the data, keep it up-to-date, and comply to regulatory strictures