Ready access to data is likely to be an important component of any digitally-driven Covid-19 projects. Below is a list of data resources that may be useful for your organisation’s Covid-19 project including making requests for public sector data.
Furthermore there are additional resources on what your organisation needs to consider when sharing data with other organisations for collaborative projects, when offering support or sharing data with organisations as part of an identified need for support.
For the duration of this crisis the Department of Finance’s Open Data NI team are offering to help organisations working on Covid-19 challenges to liaise directly with public sector data owners.
Send your data requests to the team at OpenData@finance-ni.gov.uk with the title ‘Covid Connect NI Request’. Please provide as much detail as possible and be patient as the team are dealing with many requests!
Belfast City Council’s City Innovation Team may also be able to answer your data questions email@example.com
There are a number of data sources that may be useful:
OpenData NI provides easy access to Northern Ireland public sector open data. The reuse and redistribution of this data can be used to build applications that could benefit organisations providing Covid-19 services. Visit here.
EU Open Data Portal gives access to open data published by EU institutions and bodies. Data resources include geographic, geopolitical and financial data, statistics, health, the environment, transport and scientific research. Currently the portal has a dedicated Covid-19 resource. For more information visit here.
Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information Service provides statistical and locational information relating to small areas as well as NI as a whole. Information is available across 11 themes as well as Census 2011, Deprivation, Making Life Better and Neighbourhood Renewal. For more information visit here
Companies House - Organisations can access data including company financial accounts and information about Directors and Secretaries. This can be accessed in real time through the web service or the application programming interface (API). More information here.
Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has opened up its data on charities purposes, beneficiaries and public address, income and expenditure and data. More information here.
Once again, Belfast City Council’s City Innovation Team may also be able to answer some of your data questions firstname.lastname@example.org
Ready access to data is likely to be an important component of any digitally-driven Covid-19 projects however there are many barriers to access. (Often for good reason, they protect the privacy of individuals or the security of an organisation). You will need to think carefully about these data issues.
Your organisation may have its own Records Management Team. If it does, we recommend that you speak to them as they will be able to offer useful advice.
If you don’t have ready access to such support, we’ve set out below a short guide to help you think about some of the main issues.
If your project is going to involve data, personal data, or data-sharing there are a number of things you need to think about, some of these are covered in FAQ's below.
Many organisations have their own data governance framework and approaches to data sharing which has helped them foster collaboration and innovation. For those organisations with little experience in data sharing here are some FAQs and links to organisations and resources that can provide support.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a Europe-wide law that sets out requirements for how organisations need to handle personal data.
The GDPR applies to ‘personal data’, which means any information relating to an identifiable person who can be directly or indirectly identified. You can find more detail in the key definitions section of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) Guide to the GDPR. Find out more here.
Personal data only includes information relating to natural persons who can be identified or who are identifiable, directly from the information in question; or who can be indirectly identified from that information in combination with other information.
Personal data may also include special categories of information such as criminal conviction and offences data. Future guidance can be found here.
Organisations must assess their overall compliance with data protection legislation. This includes deciding if they need to carry out a Data Protection Impact Assessment (see guidance below).
It is good practice to have a data sharing agreement. It sets out the purpose of the data sharing, covers what is to happen to the data at each stage, sets standards and helps all the parties to be clear about their respective roles. For more information visit the ICO’s Data Sharing Code of Practice. This is currently a draft consultation document which can be found here.
The ICO has developed a data sharing checklist which can be be found here.
To share data between organisations, you will probably need to draw up a data sharing agreement. It should set out the purpose of the data sharing; what happens to the data at each stage; sets standards; and helps all the parties to be clear about their respective roles.
City Data Sharing Toolkit
Connected Places Catapult has developed a toolkit which focuses on the non-technical aspects of sharing data. You can access the toolkit here
Data Protection Toolkit for Contract and Data Sharing
NICVA has produced guidance and a template for organisations to use when they are considering sharing data with other organisations. More information here
GDPR animation videos
NICVA has developed a series of five GDPR animation videos which introduces the concept of personal data to help organisations recognise their obligations under data protection laws. Watch here
Data Ethics Canvas
This is a tool for anyone who collects, shares or uses data. It helps identify and manage ethical issues at the start and throughout a project. Find more information here
A DPIA is a process designed to help organisations analyse, identify and minimise the data protection risks of a project. It is a obligations under the GDPR, and when done properly helps assess and demonstrate how organisations comply with data protection obligations. For more information on DPIA’s and a template visit here
From a technical perspective, not necessarily. The most significant costs, in both effort and monetary terms are likely more related to the general lack of literacy and skills around data sharing.
As data is often shared for different purposes, a one size fits all approach does not alway work and can be a learning curve especially for organisations that are uncertain around the legal framework. See ICO guidance above.
Data formats such as Microsoft Excel and CSV have become synonym in common language to the data they capture, human-readable digital versions of documents and spreadsheets. Formats that are machine readable suitable to be processed by a computer without further preparation, and open: formats defined by a published specification usually maintained by a standards organisation, and which can be used and implemented by anyone.
Please contact Belfast City Council’s City Innovation team if you would like to share data with other services or alternatively publish your offer of support onto your dashboard or directly contact organisations on the platform that have asked for access to data sources.
In emergency scenarios, different legal bases for sharing data may be utilised, making it easier for organisations to share this data. Emergency responders’ need to consider the risks and the potential harm that may arise if they do not share information and should balance the potential damage to the individual (and where appropriate the public interest of keeping the information confidential) against the public interest in sharing the information. In emergencies, the public interest test will generally be easier to meet than during day-to-day business. Find more information here