Microsoft, GitHub, Others Announce the Industry Data for Society Partnership

Today, Microsoft and six other industry leaders announced the Industry Data for Society Partnership (IDSP), a first-of-its-kind industry partnership to advance open and accessible private-sector data for societal good.  

The IDSP is a first-of-its-kind cross-industry partnership to help advance more open and accessible private-sector data for societal good. The founding members of the IDSP agree to provide greater access to their data, where appropriate, to help tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges in areas such as sustainability and inclusive economic growth.

GitHub is the global home for all developers, including data scientists and ML engineers who are increasingly using the platform for data sharing and collaboration. We’re proud to join the Industry Data for Society Partnership to help make private-sector data more broadly available. This will empower developers to work together across industry, academia and the public sector to address some of the world’s most pressing social challenges.” says Shelley McKinley, Chief Legal Officer, GitHub

In the past few years, open data has played a critical role in enabling faster research and collaboration across industries and with the public sector. As we saw during COVID-19, pandemic data that was made more open enabled researchers to make faster progress and gave citizens more information to inform their day-to-day activities. The IDSP’s goal is to continue this model into new areas and help address other complex societal challenges. The IDSP will serve as a forum for the participating companies to foster collaboration, as well as a resource for other entities working on related issues.

IDSP members commit to the following:

  • To open data or provide greater access to data, where appropriate, to help solve pressing societal problems in a usable, responsible and inclusive manner.
  • To share knowledge and information for the effective use of open data and data collaboration for social benefit.
  • To invest in skilling a broad class of professionals to use data effectively and responsibly for social impact.
  • To protect individuals’ privacy in all these activities.

The IDSP will also bring in other organizations with expertise in societal issues. At launch, The GovLab’s Data Program based at New York University and the Open Data Institute will both be partnership Affiliates to provide guidance and expertise for partnership endeavors.

“One important lesson we’ve learned about using data for good is the importance of collaboration and partnerships. There is an exponential return when organizations align their goals and pool their data resources and expertise. Collaboration also improves trust in how data is handled, as well as the legitimacy of the projects initiated. In other words, data partnerships are critical to unlocking data’s potential for societal benefit while limiting its risks and potential harm.” Stefaan G. Verhulst, Co-Founder of The GovLab and Director of its Data Program

“The ODI is proud and excited to be an affiliate of the Industry Data for Society Partnership. The program represents the ambition and duty of the private sector to be at the forefront of driving positive social change through open data.

It is well known that businesses can create value by using third-party data to develop new products and services. But at the ODI, our research has shown that they can unlock more value for society by opening up the data they have collected. This will help address global issues, such as the climate crisis and the COVID pandemic.

As an affiliate, we will use our expertise to help shape the partnership’s plans and approach, and we look forward to offering guidance and support to its partners as they embark on new data sharing projects.” Jack Hardinges, Head of Programmes at the Open Data Institute

As part of their work together, participating IDSP companies will launch a Data for Local Environments Challenge with the Open Data Institute. Using publicly available datasets and datasets shared or curated by the private sector, participants will explore how officials in cities, counties and municipalities can use these datasets to generate insights and solutions to improve their local environments, such as reaching their net zero goals. More about the data challenge can be found here. Registration will open in early 2023.

The IDSP will also foster connections between industry and the public sector, researchers and academics to better understand how industry data can improve their work. The partnership’s first engagement is with the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the United States National Committee for CODATA (USNC/CODATA) to plan a Summit that will convene scholars, government, industry and nonprofit research organizations to surface opportunities to work together across disciplines, leverage the strengths of individuals organizations and move common agendas forward more rapidly. More information about the planning process can be found at Association of Research Libraries (ARL).

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