Upgrading a Living Laboratory into a Data Exchange?

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Expanding of community empowerment through the generation, access and analysis of user-generated data can be a significant step to delivering community-based, evidence-led policymaking. Individual projects with such am ethos have already been developed and delivered through the Edinburgh Living Laboratory (ELL) framework. We aim to expand on this vision and develop a sustainable citizen data cooperative, building on the infrastructural investment of the Data-Driven Innovation programme.  

A Data Exchange as an anchor project could help address global and local challenges (like sustainable development, inequality, crisis resolution, etc.). This work complements the Edinburgh Futures Institute as a world-leading civic data partnership hub, with a local footprint and a global impact.

Building on a critical review of Citizen Observatory projects around the world, we aim to produce a roadmap to opportunities for creating public and private sector value through a central data and information exchange platform. We are looking at which types of projects and areas of focus (e.g. environment, planning and placemaking, tourism, Sustainable Development Goals) are most of interest to our Scottish stakeholders, including policy makers in local and national government and key businesses.

In doing so, we are looking to establish a clear model of how a Citizen Data Exchange could be developed and delivered, including guidelines for time and resource required and insights on how best to build relationships and design activities that bring together internal and external stakeholders.

How Would You Value Your Data?

Preliminary results from our study of opportunities to develop a Citizen Data Exchange (CDX) show a critical issue with the set up of living laboratories and Citizen Observatory projects internationally – their short life-span! In particular, most of the projects examined focus on producing a very targeted infrastructure (usually a web or mobile based app) and a single central database, both of which are used to answer a narrow set of (research) questions and abandoned soon thereafter.  

However, the most successful models extend further and are more self-sustaining. Of particular inspiration for our development are platform-based data cooperatives, which facilitate interactions between data generators and users (most often individuals) and software developers and researchers. These platforms are based on an app store-like infrastructure, whereby users get access to information provided by the apps' analytical power, in return for sharing their data.  

We hope to develop such models further, making the value of the data more apparent and the analytical capacity of the apps more transparent. We propose to develop our exchange around user generated data being traded for app purchase credit, where if profit is made from the app sales and data analysis, further »data interest« is returned to data generators. As such, we would like to open up the discussion about the actual direct value of our user generated data and how (in the future) we can use it in everyday transactions. So, how would you value your data?

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