Aspect 1: Willingness – Is it worth making data more accessible?
To be sure that it’s worth making data more accessible, first and foremost, you need to have a willingness to make it happen. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
This becomes much easier to consider if you start small and iterate. Then you can start to ask yourself and those around you some questions that probe the limits of what’s possible, the risks which are worth taking and the rewards available.
Question: Is there a common goal and a clearly defined requirement for improvement or adding value? In other words, have you got a clear purpose, reason, or problem to overcome?
Common Answer: Yes, (but it’s not as clear as we’d like!).
Q: Is making data more accessible likely to lead to additional insights that support this common goal?
CA: Yes, probably.
Q: Are you clear on the highest layer of data you need to share to reach your goal?
CA: Thinking about it, we need to get more granular first, so I’m not sure it’s an issue yet – And in principle, if it works at the granular level, we’d like to roll up the insights to higher levels.
Q: Are you clear on the systems you want to share data with to reach your goal?
CA: We share more to deliver projects than to learn, innovate and improve – if there’s an easy way to do those things, then that would be useful. Especially if we can make sure there’s nothing prohibitive from a legal standpoint (GDPR and collusion being the two major concerns).
Q: Do you need to decide about level of access every time, or is it easier to apply a rules-based approach?
CA: It’s going to be easier to be rules-based, but there might be exceptions. (And anyway, we don’t need to define all the rules straight away – because we start small and iterate.)
From simply asking these few questions, you’re in a much better position to define exactly what it is that you’re willing to share, and why – as well as the limitations and success criteria you need to have in place.
At this point it’s useful to take stock and consider some examples (or use cases) where you will not make data accessible, even if it is legally permissible to do so. This kickstarts your thinking into the ethics of data. It’s also useful to question, are you just saying 'yes' because you want to be open and transparent? Or on the flip side, are you just saying 'no' because you've never made data accessible?!
With all of these thoughts in mind, you’re now ready to consider whether you’re willing to share your data, especially if others are willing to reciprocate?