Data Trusts

A mechanism for data dissemination and governance

What is a data trust?

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. 

  • All sources directed at one hub

    A Standard Clearinghouse for Data

    To control who gets access to data, a Data Trust requires the adoption of a neutral Data Commons through which data can flow securely.

  • Open by design

    Open by Design

    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.

  • Visibility in and out

    Transparent Collection & Use

    Clear, auditable data lineage for a single-pane view into the way the data is gathered, used, and implemented.

The Data Commons will:
  • An illustrated government building

    Bring together legal frameworks and democratic policy under the umbrella of a neutral mechanism

  • An illustrated globe

    Automate access to open data and provide the Trust with a distribution channel for other digital assets

  • An illustration of several interconnected data pathways

    Provide granular control and permission structures to the Data Trust and general public

  • Data distribution from one source down to many users

    Distribute, use, and reuse the data, keep it up-to-date, and comply to regulatory strictures

Namara as Data Commons

Data distribution by design
ThinkData Works built Namara to standardize government data and provide a single-pane insight into the data being released at every level of government.
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.
Government Data from 3000+ open data portals is publicly available on Namara.
Partner Data from local businesses and international corporations is provided through the platform and made available according to the usage requirements set out by the organization that provides it.
Civic Data collected by the Data Trust can be shared through the Namara platform, enabling collaboration while maintaining control.
Open By Design
Namara is publicly accessible and allows unlimited access to open data. Users can share, integrate, and collaborate on data projects directly from the platform.
For sensitive public data, Namara provides row- and column-level permissions, providing security and stewardship where it is needed most.
A Data Commons must be able to standardize and translate data from a variety of formats into well-structured, human- and machine-readable datasets. Namara is trained on 250,000+ public datasets to recognize, standardize and reformat data automatically.
Namara is GDPR compliant, and provides an infrastructure that will let the Civic Data Trust collectively manage and facilitate the stewardship of sensitive public data.
Data that is Open by Default will be made publicly available through the Namara Marketplace, where organization and individuals can connect to it through the commons, API, or query service.
Namara integrates with many analytics and BI solutions, letting members of the Civic Data Trust not only plug into the Open Data created and maintained by the Trust, but analyze, visualize, and help it reach a wider audience.
Namara runs real-time analysis on data that is flowing through the platform, so changes in quality and quantity are tracked and reported.
Namara’s Dataspec service scans data sources for changes, revisions, and anomalies, providing critical insight into both publicly available and potentially sensitive data.