Data ethics panel to advise councils

In an Australian-first, a specialised data ethics panel has been appointed to help councils improve the way they manage citizens’ personal information.

Queensland’s local government peak is leading the way in data governance, announcing the appointment of a specialised data ethics panel to advise the state’s councils, in a move hoped to help councils across Australia.

The news comes after the Local Government Association of Queensland late last year finalised a framework to help its 77 councils manage their use of data ethically – a move that was also a first for the nation.

Greg Hallam

Greg Hallam, who heads LGAQ, told Government News the state’s councils have set a benchmark in the ethical use of data through the appointment of the committee, with the news marking the first data ethics committee in Australia.

While data provides integral insights into communities to help governments improve service delivery and operations, councils must manage this data with integrity, and privacy must be at the forefront of their minds, he said.

“It’s very important because of the fact we’re taking this massive leap into big data and data analytics,” he said. “We’re going to hold a lot of information from councils via IOT networks in the streets (and) through community engagement process on council websites, so it’s critical to have a platform in place.”

The three-member committee, which will meet regularly oversee adoption of the framework, will be chaired by digital change specialist David Fagan.

Cr Hallam says the “eminent” committee will help the peak make informed decisions about the data it holds.

“We’ve got a broad range of people with skills to make decisions about the appropriateness of holding information,” he said.

Mark Henley, who is the CEO of Queensland’s Council of Social Services, will also be on the panel, alongside Holding Redlich partner Andrew Hynd, who has expertise in IT and communications.

It’s hoped that the framework will be used by other councils to help inform decisions around data management.

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