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Year in Review

2022 Year in Review: Fostering Systematic, Sustainable and Responsible Data Re-use for Social Impact

As 2022 draws to a close, we take this opportunity to reflect on all that we’ve accomplished this year and how we might build on our work in 2023 and beyond.

Posted on 19th of December 2022 by Sampriti Saxena, The Govlab

2022 Year in Review: Fostering Systematic, Sustainable and Responsible Data Re-use for Social Impact
2022 Year in Review: Fostering Systematic, Sustainable and Responsible Data Re-use for Social Impact

As an action-research center, The GovLab’s Data Program’s goal is to unlock and advance the re-use of data to empower decision-makers across sectors to address societal challenges. As 2022 draws to a close, we take this opportunity to reflect on all that we’ve accomplished this year and how we might build on our work in 2023 and beyond. In what follows below, we summarize key activities according to the four pillars of the Third Wave of Open Data, which include: 

  • Becoming more intentional and purpose driven when (re)using data and AI;
  • Fostering partnerships and data collaboration;
  • Advancing data and AI governance innovation at the subnational level; and
  • Prioritizing data responsibility.

We are grateful for the continued support of our partners and funders, namely Agence française de développement (the French Development Agency), CAF Development Bank of Latin America, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Swiss Federal Government, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, the European Union, G7, G20, Microsoft, Luminate, the Paul Ramsay Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the Barilla Foundation, the National Science Foundation, IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre, UNICEF, UNHCR, UNDP, WHO, the World Resources Institute, the European University Institute-School of Transnational Governance, and PLACE,  without whom none of this would be possible.



Becoming more intentional and purpose driven when (re)using data and AI

A key aspect of our work is to understand the demand-side of data initiatives (i.e. what users and beneficiaries want to get from a data-driven project) and to match that to existing and new data supply. Scoping data supply and demand can create interventions that actually matter to the communities they seek to serve and foster a practice of purposeful data use and re-use.  

Relevant projects and publications include:

The 100 Questions Initiative

The 100 Questions initiative seeks to map the world’s 100 most pressing, high impact questions that could be answered if relevant datasets were leveraged in a responsible manner. In 2022, we made headway on the domains of air quality, food systems sustainability, governance, and mobility.

Published in 2022, “From Knowing to Doing: Operationalizing the 100 Questions for Air Quality Initiative” summarizes the September 2021 capstone event that wrapped up the 100 Questions for Air Quality domain, led by The GovLab and the World Resources Institute (WRI). Co-hosted by the Clean Air Fund, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, and the Clean Air Catalyst, this conference featured “a group of 100 atmospheric scientists, policy experts, academics, and data providers from around the world to identify the most important questions for setting a new, high-impact agenda for further investments in data and data science” to maintain and create clean air quality. 

The GovLab, alongside the Asia Foundation, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Indonesia, and the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development launched the Governance domain of the 100 Questions Initiative at the end of 2021/early 2022. This domain looked at ways data can make governance more efficient, effective, and equitable. Read about the domain’s top-ten most pressing questions in the final report by Uma Kalkar and Stefaan Verhulst, here

Along with the Barilla Foundation and the Center for European Policy Studies, The GovLab launched the Food Systems Sustainability domain of the 100 Questions Initiative in early 2022. Working with food and climate science ‘bilinguals’, we sourced and distilled over 70 questions to uncover the top ten most pressing ones for subject matter experts and the general public alike. Read the final blog here

In April, The GovLab, in collaboration with the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI) and the New Urban Mobility Alliance (NUMO), launched the Urban Mobility and Transportation domain of the 100 Questions Initiative. The domain sought to identify the “most pressing, impactful questions regarding safe, accessible, inclusive and sustainable mobility which data and data science have the potential to answer.” Read more about their findings in the final report by Uma Kalkar and Nadiya Safonova, here.  

"Building Data Infrastructure in Development Contexts: Lessons from the #Data4COVID19 Africa Challenge”

The report “Building Data Infrastructure in Development Contexts: Lessons from the #Data4COVID19 Africa Challenge” by Stefaan Verhulst, Andrew J. Zahuranec, and Andrew Young captures the findings from the #Data4COVID19 Africa Challenge, a “six-month effort by Expertise France, The GovLab, and the Agence française de développement (AFD) to improve data systems across Africa for COVID-19 response provides insights on ways to achieve this goal.”

The challenge selected seven awardees to receive AFD funding for projects that use data to understand the impact of COVID-19 within the African context. Information about the challenge and the recipients can be found here.  As well, The GovLab also published a short video series of interviews with challenge participants to “provide important context on issues such as data access and quality in enabling work.”

The #Data4COVID19 Review

With support from the Knight Foundation, The GovLab’s Hannah Chafetz, Andrew J. Zahuranec, Sara Marcucci, Behruz Davletov, and Stefaan Verhulst conducted year-long research on “if and how non-traditional data was used during the different waves of the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide guidance for how future data systems may be more effectively employed in future dynamic crises.” These findings were assembled in the “#Data4COVID19 Review: Assessing the Use of Non-Traditional Data During a Pandemic Crisis” report.  

In early December, The GovLab held a virtual panel featuring Dr. Ana Beduschi, Dr. Chinwe Lucia Ochu, and Dr. Daniela Paolotti to discuss the ramifications of the report’s findings. 

Find here the full report and the two primers on “What is Non-Traditional Data?” and “Lessons from COVID-19.”

The Global PeaceTech Hub

The Global PeaceTech Hub is “a hub for researchers, peacebuilders, tech companies and change makers to investigate the role of technology in building peace across borders.” Built in partnership with the EUI School of Transnational Governance, the University of Lucerne’s Institute of Social Ethics, and The GovLab, this project aims to fill the “gap at the intersection between peace studies and global governance” and “to promote the responsible use of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, blockchain, technical architectures for e-identity, and many more, in support of peace.”  

As part of this effort, The GovLab’s Behruz Davletov, Uma Kalkar, Marine Ragnet and Stefaan Verhulst produced the “PeaceTech Topic Map: A Research Base for an Emerging Field.” This topic map provides an important “an overview of the state of modern and emerging peace technologies, categorized by the technologies that enable peace, use case applications of PeaceTech, and challenges and risks posed by PeaceTech.” 

In November, the first Conference on Global PeaceTech was held in Florence. Conference proceedings can be found here

“Data for Peace and Humanitarian Response? The Case of the Ukraine-Russia War”

The GovLab’s Behruz Davletov, Uma Kalkar, Salwa Mansuri, Marine Ragnet and, Stefaan Verhulst published the article “Data for Peace and Humanitarian Response? The Case of the Ukraine-Russia War” in the Data & Policy blog. In this piece, they explore how “data and data science have become important to tailor, conduct, and monitor emergency responses in conflict zones,” specifically in the case of the Ukraine-Russia War.

“The Ethical Imperative to Identify and Address Data and Intelligence Asymmetries” 

Written by Stefaan Verhulst for AI & Society, “The ethical imperative to identify and address data and intelligence asymmetries” examines existing data and intelligence asymmetries in the ecosystem, and reinforces the need to address these barriers to the effective sharing and reuse of data for the public good.

“Identifying and Addressing Data Asymmetries so as to Enable (Better) Science”

Published in Frontiers, “Identifying and Addressing Data Asymmetries so as to Enable (Better) Science” by Stefaan Verhulst and Andrew Young seeks “to start filling the analytical gap regarding data asymmetries globally, with a specific focus on the asymmetrical availability of privately-held data for open science, and a look at current efforts to address these data asymmetries.”

“Advancing Digital Agency: The Power of Data Intermediaries”

The World Economic Forum’s Taskforce on Data Intermediaries looked at how “to outsource human decision points to an agent acting on an individual’s behalf, in the form of a data intermediary,” as well as the risks and opportunities of these actions, in the report “Advancing Digital Agency: The Power of Data Intermediaries.” The GovLab’s Stefaan Verhulst was one of the task force members.

The Living Library’s Selected Readings Series

As part of an ongoing effort to build a knowledge base for the field of improving governance through technology, The GovLab publishes a series of Selected Readings, which provide an annotated and curated collection of recommended works on themes such as open data, data collaboration, and civic technology. This year, we published the following pieces:


Fostering partnerships and data collaboration 

This focus is about breaking down institutional silos that prevent collaborations across domains and the horizontal silos that create barriers between skills or capacities inside of institutions. It is also about fostering a culture of purposeful data sharing and re-use helps to democratize information and match data supply with its demand. This year, The GovLab has advanced work on operationalizing data collaboratives, a key method by which intersectoral partners can store, share, and collaborate with data at the center of social good initiatives.

These projects, publications, and tools include:

Data Collaboratives Explorer

The Data Collaboratives Explorer offers a directory of more than 250 real-world examples of data collaboratives across numerous sectors and fields. The GovLab updates this repository with new examples and case studies regularly to ensure that the resource remains up to date and relevant to practitioners in the field. 

The Big Data for Migration Alliance

The Big Data for Migration (BD4M) Alliance, born from The 100 Questions Initiative’s Migration Domain, is a partnership between European Commission’s Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography (KCMD), IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC), and The GovLab dedicated to “facilitate responsible data innovation and collaboration to improve the evidence base on migration and human mobility and its use for policy making.” 

In 2022, with support from the International Network for Digital Self-Determination, the BD4M Alliance hosted two studios focused on developing digital self-determination as a tool for migrant empowerment and ensuring the ethical use of data for migration.

Tidepool Digital

Funded by the National Science Foundation’s Convergence Accelerator program, Tidepool Digital is a new partnership between the Intertidal Agency, Openscapes, The GovLab and others aimed at improving data governance in the Blue Economy and enabling sustainable ocean innovation through data stewardship and public-private data collaboration. The multidisciplinary team will “create a suite of open-licensed tools and products focused on increasing data stewardship capacity in three groups: start-up and early-stage ocean businesses, early career researchers, and coastal communities.”

In September, The GovLab, the Intertidal Agency and Openscapes hosted a series of studios focused on “finding new ways to exchange and collaborate around data about our oceans.” The GovLab’s Stefaan Verhulst taught the group what data collaboratives were and how they could be governed. 

A User’s Guide to the 9Rs Framework

The GovLab’s Open Data Policy Lab (ODPL), run in partnership with Microsoft, is a “resource hub supporting decision-makers at the local, state and national levels as they work toward accelerating the responsible reuse and sharing of open data for the benefit of society and the equitable spread of economic opportunity.” In November, the ODPL published “A User’s Guide to the 9Rs Framework” by Lisa Talia Moretti, Andrew J. Zahuranec and Stefaan G. Verhulst, which establishes a business case for data collaboration and data re-use for the public good and provides an interactive worksheet for practitioners to gauge their data efforts against.   

“Toward a Demand-Driven, Collaborative Data Agenda for Adolescent Mental Health”

Published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, “Toward a Demand-Driven, Collaborative Data Agenda for Adolescent Mental Health” by Stefaan Verhulst, Constanza M. Vidal Bustamante, Fiona Cece, Alexandra Shaw, Michelle Winowatan, and Andrew J. Zahuranec introduces a “collaborative, demand-driven methodology for the development of a strategic adolescent mental health research agenda.”  

“Emerging approaches for data-driven innovation in Europe”

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre published “Emerging approaches for data-driven innovation in Europe: Sandbox experiments on the governance of data and technology”, which “presents a set of experiments that explore emerging technologies and tools for data-driven innovation.” Stefaan Verhulst contributed a chapter to this collection, titled “Addressing public-private partnership for data supply–data collaboratives for air quality in cities”. 


Advancing data and AI innovation at the subnational level

Building open data capacity and meeting open data demand at the subnational level has the power to more directly impact the people projects intend to serve. Data held by the public sector and other institutions in cities, municipalities, states, and provinces are, by definition, more targeted and narrower in scope, making it more likely to align with the direct and immediate needs of citizens. 


The GovLab’s work to advance data innovation at the subnational level include:


The Periodic Table of Open Data

Building on previous work identifying factors that enable or complicate the success of open data initiatives, the “Periodic Table of Open Data Elements in Cities” by Andrew J. Zahuranec, Stefaan Verhulst, and Adrienne Schmoeker serves as “a refined model with a distinctive focus on developing open data strategies within cities.” 

The Periodic Table is complemented by “A User’s Guide to the Periodic Table of Open Data.” Developed by Stefaan Verhulst and Andrew J. Zahuranec, “the User's Guide is a fillable document designed to empower data stewards and others seeking to improve data access. It can be used as a checklist and tool to weigh different elements based on their context and priorities.”

The Open Data Policy Lab: City Incubator

In July 2021, The GovLab’s Open Data Policy Lab launched the City Incubator, a first-of-its-kind program to support data innovations in cities. Over the next six months, the team worked with 10 city officials across the world, giving them access to hands-on training and to mentors to build data capacity among innovators at the subnational level. You can learn more about our takeaways from the program in our two-part blog series here and here

AI Localism

The GovLab launched the AI Localism project in 2020 to investigate instances of AI governance at the subnational level. This year, 33 new cases were added to the AI Localism repository, a living curation of city- and state-level AI governance practices across the world. 

In November, the project published “AI Localism In Practice: Examining How Cities Govern AI” by Sara Marcucci, Uma Kalkar, and Stefaan Verhulst, a report that “serves as a primer for policymakers and practitioners to learn about current governance practices and inspire their own work” in the field of AI technologies. This work built off of an eight-part blog series by Uma Kalkar, Salwa Mansuri, Sara Marcucci, and Stefaan Verhulst on practical manifestations of AI localism, as well as an op-ed by Stefaan Verhulst in The Conversation titled “Debate: How to stop our cities from being turned into AI jungles.”

“Artificial Intelligence in the City: Building Civic Engagement and Public Trust”

“Artificial Intelligence in the City: Building Civic Engagement and Public Trust” is a collection of essays edited by Ana Brandusescu and Jess Reia that “brings together a group of multidisciplinary scholars, activists, and practitioners working on a diverse range of initiatives to map strategies going forward.” Stefaan Verhulst contributed a piece to this work titled “AI Localism: Governance of Artificial Intelligence at the City and Local Level” that provided an overview of AI localism and its contribution to governance efforts around AI technologies.

“Debate: How to stop our cities from being turned into AI jungles”

Writing in The Conversation, Stefaan Verhulst outlines “ten principles to help systematise our approach to AI Localism.” These include: articulating and following guiding principles; building greater AI literacy; and tapping into local expertise, to name a few.  

Prioritizing data responsibility 

At the center of all of our work at The GovLab is our commitment to responsible and ethical data practices. This involves a responsibility-by-design approach to open data that prioritizes fairness, accountability, and transparency across the data lifecycle while managing risks and maximizing value.  

These projects and publications include:

The Responsible Data for Children (RD4C) Initiative

The RD4C Initiative is a joint project by The GovLab and UNICEF to “support best practice in data responsibility; identify challenges and develop practical tools to assist practitioners in evaluating and addressing them; and encourage a broader discussion on actionable principles, insights, and approaches for responsible data management.” To learn more about the foundations of this initiative, read this two-part series in Apolitical by Stefaan G. Verhulst and Andrew Young.    

The year began with the launch of the RD4C YouTube channel, which shares video resources and training videos in multiple languages to help practitioners across the world implement responsible data practices with children and their data in mind. The RD4C team also added to their existing library of case studies, looking specifically at UNICEF’s ‘InForm’ open data collection and management tool in Mozambique, Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys in Zimbabwe and Cellule d’Analyse Intégrée (CAI) research cell in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Last but not least, the RD4C team hosted a series of in-person studios in Uganda to “to diagnose data challenges affecting refugee settlements in Uganda and develop new solutions to more responsibly and effectively manage data.” 

International Network on Digital Self-Determination

Founded in 2021, the International Network on Digital Self-Determination is “a collaboration that is defining the concept of digital self-determination and working to ensure that people everywhere are legally, socially, and technically empowered to participate in the digitally connected world.” 

In June, the Network hosted its first conference, “Empowering People in their Digital Lives: A Conference Introducing Digital Self-Determination.” Stefaan Verhulst spoke about the progress made with scoping the digital self-determination field and prototyping tangible data products at the conference.

“Operationalizing Digital Self Determination”

In a new paper titled “Operationalizing Digital Self Determination,” Stefaan Verhulst examines different methods used to address data, information, and agency asymmetries emerging from the datafication of our lives. He proposes digital self determination as a sustainable and effective solution in the long run to address the challenges that these asymmetries pose to the data ecosystem.

The State of Open Data Policy Summit and Repository of Recent Developments     

In May, the Open Data Policy Lab (ODPL) hosted its first “State of Open Data Policy Summit” where attendees “had the opportunity to listen to and engage with senior leaders in government, civil society, and business about the policies that can support impactful (re)use of data for the public good.” Juan Ferres, Vice President And Chief Data Scientist at Microsoft, delivered a keynote address emphasizing that data is the new code, not the new oil, and stressed the urgent need for better training materials for AI. The full panel recording and abridged highlights reel can be found here.

The summit also marked the launch of the ODPL’s State of Open Data Policy Repository of Recent Developments. The repository is designed to “assess recent policy developments on open data, data reuse, and data collaboration around the world.” 

The Data Stewards Academy

In April 2022, the Open Data Policy Lab (ODPL) hosted its third cohort of The Data Stewards Academy. This program is an eight-week accelerated learning program to support public and private sector leaders to open data and reduce data access inequities in ways that advance their institution’s goals. This cohort was dedicated specifically to data innovators in the Eastern Hemisphere, who do not often receive as much support as their Western counterparts. Over eight weeks, 21 data leaders from 14 different countries came together to learn about the ways they can use data to improve how they operate and pursue goals in the public’s interest.   

AI Ethics: Global Perspectives

Now in its second year, the AI Ethics: Global Perspectives course brings together diverse perspectives across the field of ethical AI and data, to raise awareness and help actors and institutions work towards the more responsible use of these technologies. The result of a partnership between The GovLab, NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Global AI Ethics Consortium (GAIEC), Center for Responsible AI @ NYU (R/AI), and the TUM Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence (IEAI), the course currently hosts 50 modules by instructors representing 25 countries around the world, as well as a collection of webinar series showcasing different elements of ethical data and AI.   

This year, we added 25 new lectures, covering topics from the role of religion and philosophy in AI ethics to the practical applications of AI ethics in dentistry, peacebuilding efforts and transport.   

“Governing the Environment-Related Data Space”

“Governing the Environment-Related Data Space” is a joint report by The GovLab and The Democratic Society. Written by Jörn Fritzenkötter, Laura Hohoff, Paola Pierri, Stefaan Verhulst, Andrew Young, and Anthony Zacharzewski, the report captures the findings of their joint research centered on the responsible and effective reuse of environment-related data to achieve greater social and environmental impact.

“The Need for New Methods to Establish the Social License for Data Reuse”

Writing in the Data & Policy blog, Stefaan Verhulst and Sampriti Saxena explore “The Need for New Methods to Establish the Social License for Data Reuse.” In this piece, they discuss the value of social licenses for data reuse initiatives and the ways in which they can be obtained to promote responsible and transparent use of data.




The GovLab’s work was also featured in a number of conferences and roundtable discussions on data re-use and responsibility. Some of the events we had the pleasure of taking part in include:


In 2023, we look forward to building on this momentum to continue to advance the systematic, sustainable and responsible use of data to achieve public good. Happy Holidays from all of us at The GovLab! 


Photo: Unsplash/@NASA is licensed under CC0

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