A committee set up by the ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY) under the chairmanship of Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan to analyse various aspects of community data is exploring avenues for collaboration between government and businesses in disseminating non-personal data, which, it feels, can play a critical role in understanding public behaviour, preferences and for formulating people-centric polices.
The seven-member panel, which was formed in September, is currently in discussions with stakeholder ministries and companies, including social media platforms and firms involved in developing and using technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
They will explore avenues through which business to government (B2G) data sharing can take place under an institutional, legal and transparent mechanism, sources said.
A senior official from a stakeholder ministry said government is committed to working with all stakeholders in identifying the barriers to sharing data and is exploring various data sharing frameworks to ensure safe, fair and equitable data sharing between organisations.
“The non-rivalrous nature of data and technologies like data analytics can maximise its value. Re-using data can save costs and time. Government can become more cost-efficient and provide effective services to citizens and needs to exploit the potential of new data sources. Data can be sourced from private sector, academia, NGOs or public sector itself,” he explained.
Another official said there is also data, which cannot be made public like personal and sensitive personal data. Data sets that can describe the customer. This can be generated by IoT (data collected by a car’s onboard system), IT systems supporting logistics (payment card transactions) and websites & social media platforms as they monitor users’ activity (search engine usage).
“However this privately-held data can provide insights into behavioural patterns of citizens and businesses across social, political or even economic factors, which can help in understanding, evaluating, predicting and preparing for certain situations and scenarios. As much of this data cannot be made open, it can only be shared under special conditions and to a very restricted and controlled set of users in public sector,” he added.
B2G data sharing can enhance government’s preparedness for various scenarios and enables more logical and fact-based decisions. For instance, during 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Waze was sharing with government the data its users collected as they drive. Together with partners like Waycare18 they had set up a platform that intended to support public bodies with urban planning, law enforcement, traffic operations, traffic engineering and emergency services, the official said.
According to a report in August 2018 by the UK government, data is playing an increasing role in transforming public services. “Over the last 10 years, Transport for London (TfL) has led the world in opening transport data free of charge, including to external app developers. A recent study by Deloitte found that use of this data now contributes up to £130 million per year to London economy through time-saving, reduced costs for TfL and high-value job creation,” the report noted.
A senior IT ministry official said data that can be used for public benefit, but its protection is paramount and its exploitation must take place in light of ethical considerations and within the limits set by law. Clear frameworks for anonymisation and de-personalisation of data are important.