Addressing concerns over output of data

Agencies need to be able to demonstrate they have the right systems in place to deal with risks around data sharing, the state’s chief data scientist has told a technology conference.

Dr Ian Oppermann, Chief Data Scientist for the NSW Government and CEO of the data analytics centre, spoke about privacy, trust and the centre’s risk model at the CEBIT technology trade fair this week.

Dr Ian Oppermann

“Everybody faces exactly the same challenge, not just in Australia but globally there is this challenge of being able to share data in a way that is appropriate given privacy concerns,” he told Government News on the sidelines of the CEBIT technology trade fair.

“Part of what we need to do is demonstrate that we’ve got all the systems and controls in place for all the different aspects of risk,” Dr Oppermann said.

Ten dimensions of risk

The NSW Data Analytics Centre has identified 10 dimensions of risk and created a risks model comprising five ‘safes’ and five risks, he explained.

Controls needed to be put in place for these to deliver, he said.

The five ‘safes’

  • Safe project – appropriate and authorised sharing of data
  • Safe data – appropriate projections
  • Safe setting – a safe and secure environment
  • Safe people – sharing only with authorised people
  • Safe output – ensuring results don’t lead to identification

However, these five safes alone are insufficient, Dr Oppermann said, and it is important to address risks as well

The five risks

  • Failure to apply ‘Safes’ framework
  • Time sensitivity of a dataset or output
  • Use of project outputs
  • Use of outputs within the outcomes framework
  • Unfavourable consequences of sharing data

“If it’s not safe, then you really need safe people, and you dial up the safety on your cyber security settings,” Dr Oppermann said.

“You might have locked rooms, you might have restricted access, you might have named access, you might have a whole range of controls, and then you produce the output.”

Transparency is the best way to deal with concerns surrounding the output of data, Dr Oppermann says.

“There’s real concern about what that output gets used for, who gets to see it, whether or not it contains results that people disagree with or are alarmed by or shocked by,” he said.

“The very best thing to do is to be transparent about what we’re doing, why we’re doing it (and) what data we’re using to do it.”

Data and smart cities

The NSW Data Analytics Centre has been working with local councils to deliver their smart cities strategies, and working with them to make the most of the data that is collected.

“Really what touches people is local councils, but there are lots of them, and local councils have the challenges that we have of data sharing. There’s so many of them and so many different levels of maturity,” Dr Oppermann said.

Compared to other states and territories in Australia, Dr Oppermann believes NSW is leading in this space because it started the journey earlier, however, there is great collaboration starting to happen across the country.

“There is genuine willingness around the table for everybody to (do) something and to share the results, and that is like I’ve never seen before,” he said.

“This space, people are really getting behind and actually driving all of Australia forward, which is fabulous.”

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