GovLab discusses data-driven response to Covid-19 pandemic

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on November 17, 2020

The findings of the report were published in the official website of the Data Assembly

The Governance Lab (The GovLab) at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, in collaboration with the Henry Luce Foundation, released guidance on reusing and repurposing Covid-19 data.

The findings of the report were published in the official website of the Data Assembly.

The findings were presented at The Data Assembly initiative in New York City. Experts across the spectrum, including advocacy groups, health administrators, researchers, discussed opportunities and risks involved in the data-driven response to Covid-19.


The report described considerations to be kept in mind that can be summarised through five major takeaways. Among them were: a need to match urgency with accountability; support and expand data literacy; seek to create equitable, positive impacts across communities; engage with legitimate, local actors; and develop roles in institutions that can coordinate data re-use.

Some of the recommendations include:

  • The re-use of data in the context of Covid-19 should be tied to a clear and well-defined purpose.
  • Practitioners should prioritise data re-use that benefits all people, including under-served populations and those who are “invisible” in many institutional datasets.
  • Practitioners should only re-use data when it is the most direct, least invasive means to obtain the desired outcome.

The piece also include a series of principles — organised around questions of why, what, who, how, when, and where — that how organisations can realise these findings in their own data work.

Mariko Silver, President and CEO of the Luce Foundation, about the value of the report and deliberations said, “There is not enough public conversation about data use and reuse. The kind of trust-building that is required to make data really useful requires us to be engaged in conversations with communities and across communities.”

Co-Founder and Chief Research and Development Officer of The GovLab said: “Data repurposing could help mitigate the impacts of Covid-19 but it needs to be used responsibly, legitimately, and in accordance with public expectations.”

Published on November 17, 2020

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