Enabling Digital Transformation Through Reliable and Trusted Data

14 December 2021

Opinion piece by Professor Markus Helfert

Establishing reliable and trusted data sharing infrastructures is one of the key challenges for the digital transformation of societies. Efficient ways of sharing data across multiple providers at scale need to be established, allowing the exploiting of data value. Governed and managed right, data ecosystems have the potential to generate significant value.

However, trust and privacy preserving, compliance and reliability are key parameters for the success of these data ecosystems. It is crucial that organisations offer individuals transparency and accountability of their user data to ensure they are truly in control of their data in such new systems such as smart homes and smart cities. Frameworks, best practices and standards need to be designed and established that leverage ‘shared’ data. Solutions need to respect the rights and freedoms of users while turning personal data into an asset for the population and society.

New multidisciplinary challenges

While an effective data ecosystem can facilitate the exchange of data, they also give rise to risks from a socio-ethical perspective. The challenges go beyond technical aspects to issues of data ownership, privacy, regulation, business models and licensing and authorised reuse of data by third parties.

The control paradigm for shared data must shift from today’s access control to usage control. Issues such as how consent is managed, assured, how to deal with changes in consent, data provenance and support transparency are critical. Solutions require a multidisciplinary approach including computer science, information systems, business studies, sociology and law.

Together with ethical practices, business expertise and wide stakeholder engagement, Ireland offers a unique testbed to develop methodologies and tools addressing the challenges around reliability and reproducibility, privacy, provenance, consent, explainability, inclusiveness and avoidance of unfair bias.

Vision for a global trusted data ecosystem

With the SFI funded research programme on Data Governance – Empower – we have brought together researchers, industry and policy experts and wider stakeholder groups to collaborate establishing leading practices in data governance as the key pillar of a global data ecosystem.

The aim is to drive innovation, research and businesses with societal impact, that is governed effectively and which enables vast amounts of data move among actors within complex information supply chains. Our vision for Empower is to establish effective governed and reliable global data ecosystem allowing vast amounts of data be shared within complex and trusted information supply chains.