LOTI boroughs recognise that the data they collect and/or hold is one of their most valuable assets. Used intelligently, it can help them make better decisions, drive service improvements and better serve their residents. However, they are acutely aware of the need to use data not just legally but also ethically, transparently and in a way that is worthy of their residents’ trust.
The public sector is still developing the processes, tools and governance to do data ethics well and LOTI aims to accelerate this process through working with two boroughs that are pioneering new approaches data ethics:
- Camden Council is currently developing a Data Charter to provide council officers with a policy framework and set of principles to guide their approach to how they use the data they hold, both now and in the future. They have chosen to take a deliberative approach and consult with local residents about the challenges and opportunities surrounding the use of data. In a set of interviews and other engagement activities, local residents have been presented with different scenarios in which the council could use their data. The aim is to determine how residents feel about the use of data, identify under what circumstances and conditions they are supportive of its use, and where they have misconceptions or concerns. The Data Charter is thought to be the first such document to be produced by any local authority and could become a model for other London boroughs.
- Brent Council has recently established a Data Ethics Committee to review and assess the ethics of the council’s new data initiatives. The Committee uses the Open Data Institute’s Data Ethics Canvas to help frame debate about whether a given data project should go ahead and what mitigating measures might need to be put in place. A core aim of this new structure is to ensure that data ethics principles do not just sit in a document, but are acted on as a core part of the borough’s internal data governance.
Details of both initiatives were shared in a LOTI Show and Tell in this video.
What we want to do
Given our interest in helping all London boroughs to use and innovate with data ethically and responsibly, LOTI is keen to support these two initiatives and ensure that the lessons they learn are documented and shared. We also want to understand how these two initiatives might be connected together to become a model for how all councils can engage with citizens and put in place robust internal governance to ensure that data is always used responsibly.
LOTI will document work in both boroughs and verify and validate with additional boroughs including Barnet and Hounslow plus the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation to draft a reference data ethics process for London.