Public Data Commons: working paper for the UN

Data Impact Hub and the Mutual Commitment Framework
November 13, 2023

Today, the Center for Policy Research at United Nations University (UNU-CPR) published our policy note, “Public Data Commons as a Policy Framework for the Data Impact Hub and the Mutual Commitment Framework.” The note builds on our work on Public Data Commons and informs a recommendation from the report of the High-Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism. The recommendation in question explores a “data impact hub” underpinned by a mutual commitment framework

In our opinion, the “data impact hub” described in the report of the High-Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism correctly frames the need for pre-positioned data capacities and pre-agreed frameworks to properly address global emergencies. Our Public Data Commons framework offers a model in which a trusted institution acting in the public interest not only pre-positions capacities but, over time, builds a body of data that can be shared securely and in a trustworthy manner. This is particularly important in times of “poly-crisis,” where emergencies cannot always be framed as discreet events but have a systemic character and play out over longer periods. For this reason, ad hoc data-sharing solutions in the face of emergencies would not be sufficient.

Our commons-based approach offers a set of principles and more specific policy design guidelines that can help in sharing data as digital public goods. It translates into recommendations for collective decision-making and balancing the need to share with care for data rights and to secure public interest.

The note’s first part outlines the Public Data Commons concept as a framework for business-to-government (B2G) data sharing. The second part considers what lessons could be learned from the European debate on B2G data sharing. Finally, the note offers additional considerations for introducing a commons-based approach for the data impact hub, such as, e.g., accounting for the diversity and multilateral governance of data and incentivizing businesses to participate in sharing.

You can find the full note on the UNU-CPR project’s website.

Alek Tarkowski
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