Which datasets need to be shared?
Sharing data isn’t enough; sharing the right data makes all the difference.
The key areas where data sharing comes into focus include family, domestic and sexual violence, child abuse, health, natural hazards and emergency management, road safety, and so on. With the rapid adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning(ML), the importance of data sharing is underscored, even in traditionally less data-intensive fields such as energy resources consumption, agriculture, manufacturing, and construction. Government agencies can determine local needs and updated these datasets. Some of the data elements from health and crime are already being recorded and shared globally, however the overall usage is still low.
The latest annual report from the Australian Digital Health Agency shows that just 2.69 million of the 23 million people registered for a My Health Record accessed it in 2020-21. And this was largely driven by people accessing their COVID-19 vaccination records and test results. Governments must increase public awareness, highlighting the importance of data sharing, to increase this number so that clinicians can devise quality care strategies and researchers can expedite the discovery of new drugs and therapies.
It is only obvious that securing consent from citizens and instituting strong data protection mechanisms are key to sharing health related data. As per the Roy Morgan Research poll conducted on behalf of Research Australia, approximately 91% Australians would be willing to share de-identified medical data if it went toward research purposes. Australia Privacy Act in Australia protects the data privacy for its citizens. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and New Zealand’s Privacy Act aim to ensure data privacy for their citizens and residents.
Data from multiple data sources will help governments, researchers, scientists, and policymakers to make correlations, identify patterns of unusual activity, and identify anomalies to drive informed decision-making. Some potential use cases are listed below:
Sharing of identified health data of citizens with health providers for clinicians to provide high-quality care
Sharing of de-identified health data for researchers to find new drugs and therapies
Sharing of data from restaurants, travel data, and so on, with public health departments to arrive at eating preferences and their health impacts
Sharing of transport data from flights, trains, metros, and buses to identify the possibility of transmission of viruses
Sharing of Google search results to identify the spread of diseases
Sharing of non-intrusive test results from the sewage systems to identify the spread of diseases (this will help governments minimize tests on individual citizens, reducing government expenditure)
Sharing of inflation data, citizens spend data, and so on, to predict employment or unemployment status as well as preempting economic downturn and recession.
Sharing of property registrations data can help with smart city planning.