A Year in Review 2023

“A Year in Review” presents the activities, impact, and learnings from 2023 and what’s coming next in the Datasphere Initiative. From amplifying voices across sectors and conducting comprehensive research on concrete data challenges and opportunities, to policy experimentation to enable innovative cross-border data governance solutions.

Learnings

1. We need a transformative agenda to responsibly unlock the value of data for all.

An International Decade for Data (IDD) is a potentially powerful international tool to help the UN and its Member States navigate through the data-driven landscape. It urges leaders to set a transformative agenda that acknowledges the interconnected nature of data’s potential and underscores the collective responsibility to wield it conscientiously.

The IDD could connect the dots between data’s intrinsic value and AI’s transformative power, and promote inclusivity by amplifying diverse voices in shaping global data governance. 

2. We must enhance global AI governance and representation from the Global Majority. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) raises complex data governance questions, underscoring the need for transparency, accountability, and inclusive design. Yet, achieving these goals can be challenging, especially when governments or practitioners do not fully understand data-related decisions and their potential impacts, leading to adverse effects on desired development outcomes. It is key to unpack regional experiences and voices, particularly those from the Global Majority, to address these complexities effectively.

3. We need to accelerate experimentation to enable innovative cross-border data governance solutions

Ending the climate crisis, developing responsible AI, and other complex issues require a new level of dynamic, multistakeholder, and cross-border collaboration. Sandboxes can help bridge the gap between stakeholders and sectors by creating collaborative environments to experiment with new uses, capabilities, and means of governing data against concrete challenges through a multistakeholder approach.

4. We should move from data to value by enhancing the understanding of the field of data governance

Over the past decades, the field of data governance has experienced exponential growth in terms of concepts, supporting systems, norms, and entities. The increasing complexity of this domain requires mapping the organizations and funders worldwide operating in the area to better understand how they are unlocking the value of data.

5. We need more global policy engagement

Discussions about data remain fragmented across sectors, and regions, often far from the practitioners or affected stakeholders, particularly those from the Global Majority. Moreover, debates on emerging technologies like AI often overlook the central role of data and governance, leading to bias.

As the deadline to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) approaches, the challenges increase, highlighting the urgent need for investment in data ecosystems, regulatory frameworks, and capacity building to prevent underrepresented communities from being left behind. 

Activities and Impact

Our events in 2023

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Events the Datasphere Initiative participated in by topic:
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BLOGS

The Datasphere Initiative produced 47 blogs on how data governance is evolving and impacting our digital society.

Top 5 most visited blogs in 2022

INSIGHTS AND RESOURCES ON DATA

RESOURCES

The Datasphere Initiative produced resources to frame the concept of the datasphere, map organizations in the data governance ecosystem, and provide policy guidance on sandboxes for data.

Honing the concept of the Datasphere and how it can helpful for guiding data governance.

Identifying the organizations working on data governance across sectors and geographies.

Developing agile frameworks for responsible data-sharing.

FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM

The Datasphere Initiative launched its first Fellowship inviting graduate students and young professionals to work on novel research and dialogue related to data governance.

Fellows
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Monthly Meetings
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7 explorations of the Datasphere concept

A key part of the fellow’s work was to explore the concept of the “Datasphere” and how it can be useful for designing best practices and frameworks for data governance in a holistic manner, so its value is unlocked for all.

12 blogs

3 papers 

The essay assesses the impact on global data flows of the cross-border provisions introduced by the Data Governance Act (DGA) and the Data Act (DA).

This paper provides a preliminary mapping of academic literature on data governance and explores the emerging conceptual framework of the “Datasphere”.

This paper presents a graph database-based framework for temporal querying of data and metadata which allows for the discovery and cataloguing of data using livestock population data and their classifications as a case study.

1 Wikipedia article

Datasphere Fellowship Report 2021-2022

The fellow’s outputs, key learnings, and contributions to furthering understanding of the concept of the datasphere and the ways in which diverse policy issues are impacting our ability to responsibly unlock the value of data for all have been presented in the Datasphere Fellowship Report 2021-2022, by the Datasphere Initiative. 

The 2021/2022 cohort of fellows presented their research and showcased the insights they gathered on the concept of the Datasphere at a virtual event on October 13, 2022. 

The Datasphere Initiative welcomed the second cohort of fellows in October 2022.

A NEW INSTITUTION

BOARD OF TRUSTEES

On September 22, 2022 the Datasphere Initiative was founded as a not-for-profit foundation headquartered in Switzerland appointing an inaugural Board of Trustees

Michael Kende

Anne Carblanc

Stéphane Duguin

Chair Board of Trustees

Member Board of Trustees

Member Board of Trustees

A GLOBAL TEAM

The Datasphere Initiative built a diverse team spanning geographies and experiences. 

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Lorrayne Porciuncula

Executive Director
Martin-Hullin-profile

Martin Hullin

Deputy Executive Director
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Bertrand de La Chapelle

Chief Vision Officer
carolina-rossini

Carolina Rossini

Director for Policy and Research
Sophie-Tomlinson

Sophie Tomlinson

Director of Partnerships & Communications
nick

Nicholas Field

Lead, Operations & Administration
Justin Bryant Datasphere Initiative

Justin Bryant

Lead, Global Sandboxes for Data
Natalia-Loungou

Natalia Loungou

Events & Communications Coordinator
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Mariana Rozo-Paz

Research Associate
Andrea Palomino

Andrea Palomino

Digital Communications Associate

A GLOBAL NETWORK

20+ organizations joined the Datasphere Initiative as a partner.

WHAT´S NEXT

1. Catalyzing a community

Building on the Datasphere Governance Atlas, a mapping of 260 organizations working on data governance around the world, the Datasphere Initiative aims to leverage and expand this research into an interactive coordination platform. This will provide structured in depth information on the organization and initiatives shaping and framing the data policy landscape, including funders, in order to support community coordination towards better and more inclusive strategic engagement, policy action and technology development for the digital society.

2. Amplifying voices

The Datasphere Initiative will continue to foster a more inclusive and participatory approach to data governance, both at national, regional and global levels. As a prize winner of the Omidyar Network Future of Data Challenge, the Datasphere Initiative is launching a project to develop awareness-raising and learning campaigns, to showcase the voices and experiences of youth from the United States on how data shapes their lives. Results and learnings will be shared to bridge gaps between youth and decision-makers through structured advocacy and outreach.

To expand our understanding of data governance and its relationship to Artificial Intelligence’s impact on society, the Datasphere Initiative will also be continuing its webinar series with the D4D Network to understand trends and challenges arising across regions particularly in the Global Majority.

3. Experimenting with innovative solutions for concrete data challenges

The stakes are high on tackling the emerging global challenges and bottlenecks related to data access and sharing. Yet, we continue to use traditional tools and governance that have proven insufficient to tackle novel dilemmas. New regulatory and technological tools are needed to handle the complexity of data-sharing across borders and sectors. The Datasphere Initiative is committed to identifying paradigm shifts and experimenting with innovative approaches that responsibly unlock the value of data for all. 

The Global Forum on Sandboxes for Data will consolidate good practices and coordinate experts to advance the implementation of sandboxes applied for concrete cross-border data challenges, while the Africa Forum will build a pan-African community to enable innovative cross-border data governance solutions for the region. 

In addition, the Datasphere Initiative and interested partners will experiment with developing Template Modular Charters for Data-Sharing Communities on concrete pilot cases that could significantly reduce transaction costs for actors, provide predictability, and enable responsible data sharing.

 

4. Shaping a global agenda

The Datasphere Initiative will continue to encourage organizations and individuals to reflect on how data governance challenges are creeping into numerous economic sectors and social dimensions in order to combine efforts at developing both sectoral frameworks and global ones. We are planning more dialogues, events and thought pieces to showcase innovations and moonshot solutions to address the planetary challenges that data governance poses. We are taking part in coalitions to shape the international agenda towards a more holistic and inclusive approach to data governance.

The Datasphere Initiative will organize a Summit to connect stakeholders across-sectors and geographies to share technological and policy innovations and develop a common roadmap to responsibly unlock the value of data for all.

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