Data as a lifeline for the liveable metropolis

In the big tech-dominated era, data has been commercially exploited for so long that it is now hard to imagine that data sharing might also benefit the community. Yet that is what a collective of businesses, governments, social institutions and residents in Amsterdam aim to do. Sharing more data to better care for the city.

  • Consortium of organisations must ensure data is used for the greater good
  • From commercially exploited data to socially meaningful and valuable data
  • Amsterdam ‘data common living lab’ should demonstrate societal use, power and limits of data commons

‘Data Commons Collective’ deploys data for public purposes

The consortium – called ‘Data Commons Collective’ – consists of Waag Futurelab, University of Amsterdam, Deloitte, Ahold Delhaize and AMdEX, at the initiative of the Amsterdam Economic Board. Together, they will explore the societal use, the power and limits of data commons in the coming years. A vision of data sharing that assumes data can be seen as a new, digital resource, entirely for the benefit of the community.

Data to address pressing societal problems is often in the hands of multiple parties with conflicting interests. Everyone keeps and monitors that (golden) data in silos. Through data commons, parties can donate their ‘data share’ to the solution to a secure place that the community can only use to solve the societal problem at hand.

Data commons as a counterweight to data skepticism

“With the rise of big tech, we as a society have come to view data skeptically. With ‘Data Commons Collective’ we want to take data away from commercial exploitation by giving it back to the community through data commons. Here, datasets from various sources can be combined on the basis of clear agreements, enabling the gaining of new knowledge about complex problems. In this way, data sharing should actually become something positive and valuable, with which we can enhance the quality of life and make metropolises more enjoyable,” said Marjolein Bot, Lead Energy & Digital at the Amsterdam Economic Board.

Data as a lifeline for liveable cities

‘Data Commons Collective’ is going to launch several data commons in the coming months, which should start making the usefulness of data commons tangible by coming up with concrete solutions to pressing societal problems in the areas of energy, green urban development, mobility, health and culture.

Each data common serves a different purpose and will require a different implementation, but the principles are always the same:

  1. Serves a public or community purpose
  2. Cooperation between different types of parties
  3. Management according to principles which are acceptable to users that define who may access the data commons under what conditions, how they may be used, for what purpose and what is understood by data misuse
  4. Embedding to manage data quality, but also to monitor compliance to the principles and ensuring that data misuse is detected and responded to appropriately.

The living labs should reveal what conditions are essential for a successful and secure data common. From there, it builds an innovation methodology, a technological infrastructure and a guide for governance and management of data and collaboration.

About ‘Data Commons Collective’

‘Data Commons Collective’ is a consortium founded in 2022, consisting of Waag Futurelab, University of Amsterdam, Deloitte, Ahold Delhaize and AMdEX, at the initiative of the Amsterdam Economic Board. Together, they explore the utility, power and limits of data commons.

13 April 2023

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