news | 28.01.2016 |

Public views on the use of private sector data for social research

The Urban Big Data Centre worked with the Economic and Social Research Council in the development and implementation of focus groups involving members of the general public, selected at random, to assess their views about data privacy and security and how information is used for social research.

The purpose of these public dialogues was to inform the work of the Urban Big Data Centre, Consumer Data Research Centre and the Business and Local Government Data Research Centre. Our three centres aim to enable secure access and use of data, including private sector data, for innovative and high quality social science research of societal benefit.

Overall, the public dialogues demonstrated there is wide public support for the use of private sector data for social research. Access to information about the Data Centre processes as the dialogue unfolded alleviated a lot of the concerns people had initially around security and privacy. An increased appreciation of the benefits of social research for everyone in society meant that a trade-off took place between concerns and perceived risks of the use of private sector data in favour of research that leads to improvements in policy and services.

The final report can be downloaded from the ESRC website, Public Dialogues Report.

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