This Week in Data – 30 August

This week in data – 30 August: Each week, we compile the best stories in data. Get up to speed on this week in data without having to search for it.


Is it ethical to keep your data private?

An interesting flip on the dilemma we all face with sharing data: we want to keep our data private, but what happens if that information could actually help people? Wired looks into this problem and debates the “moral choice” of data sharing. The piece examines a wearable to monitor pregnancy vitals for women: the goal is good, but what happens if the information is used for nefarious purposes?

And if it is…what does that mean about the moral choice you make to hold that data? Is it still worth it to share it, if your data can be used to find medical cures?

This debate, we suspect, is just beginning.


“And for we consumers, well, a blanket refusal to offer up our data to the AI gods isn’t necessarily the good choice either. I don’t want to be the person who refuses to contribute my genetic data via 23andMe to a massive research study that could, and I actually believe this is possible, lead to cures and treatments for diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and who knows what else.”


Google wants to give you tokens to prove your identity

Well, something like that. Google’s under a lot of pressure to keep user data private, but given its entire existence depends on that information – it’s not really going to bend over backwards. But as the SMH points out, it’s developing alternatives – including a token system to help you prove your identity. 

This is surely a response to Apple’s hard push into privacy, including a “sign in with Apple” feature coming next month.


“Google’s suggestions include cryptographic tokens users can amass showing they are trustworthy, using artificial intelligence to show people relevant ads based on minimal information and storing personally-identifiable data on someone’s device rather than in their browser.”


The Australian data right system needs testers

Down in Australia, the country’s competition regulator is looking for participants willing to test out the new Consumer Data Right framework. The regulator itself, the ACCC, is responsible for maintaining a register of folks in the system. All early days right now, but it’s clear: the age of open data in Australia has definitely taken a step forward. 


“The CDR ecosystem will go live from February 2020 (a phased implementation of open banking has already begun).”


The future in data partnerships

So many businesses now have such treasure troves of data, that attention is now being directed towards using this information in time of public crisis. Over at Project Syndicate, the organization takes a look at how private companies can start using information for good (like how a direct mail organization used its information to help aid services during Hurricane Katrina). 

Stefaan G. Verhulst, the co-founder of the GovLab at New York University, says in the piece that new frameworks are already being built to help create this type of collaboration in the future. But it requires a strong sense of “public good” in private organizations, he says, and that’s a tough road.


This includes identifying chief data stewards in these organizations to lead the design and implementation of systematic, sustainable, and ethical collaborative efforts. The aim is to build a network of individuals from the private and public sectors promoting data stewardship.”


Data sharing avoids huge traffic block in Seattle

Seattle is one of the fastest-growing cities in the US, and traffic is a nightmare for residents. But a planned shutdown could have been much worse if data hadn’t been available. Over at Govtech, the publication shows how collaboration between agencies allowed bus routes to be redeployed in more effective ways, alongside other solutions.

Yet another reason why transportation data sharing is so important.  


“The enormity of the project forced collaboration across several agencies, including Seattle DoT, WSDOT, the Port of Seattle, King County Metro Transit and Sound Transit, in ways that were both aspirational and difficult, according to Marx.”


That’s our wrap for this week. Thanks for reading – we hope you found it entertaining and informational. We’d love to hear your thoughts on these articles and anything else data related! Email us anytime at!

Until next week,

Team Data Republic

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