Announcing the "PLUTO workshop: Assessing data uses to advance data solidarity" on 18 October, 2023

the word Data mirrored in a glass window, aparmtent building also mirrored in background

Understanding and governing data use for the betterment of society has become increasingly important in public policy and everyday life. Governments worldwide are formulating strategies to release "high value" open data with the aim of benefiting the environment, economy, and society as a whole. To ensure responsible data handling, national data permit authorities and other organisations are conducting assessments before disseminating or licensing datasets.

Solidarity-based data governance (data solidarity)—by strengthening collective control and ownership of data—helps to ensure that the benefits and costs of digital practices are borne collectively and fairly. Next to preventing harm, data solidarity foregrounds the public value that specific instances of data use create.

This workshop, organised by Barbara Prainsack, Seliem El-Sayed, Connor Hogan and Danny Lämmerhirt and hosted at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, will explore how the public value of data use can be conceptualised and measured. Specifically, workshop participants (by invitation only) will get to try out an online tool that the organisers developed to enable a structured assessment of different types of data use: the Public VaLUe Assessment TOol (PLUTO). It is crucial to recognize that the methods used to determine what value data use has, and for whom, are not neutral tools guiding us towards socially beneficial outcomes. Instead, they are influenced by specific notions of fairness, redistribution, value, and values. These notions actively shape what is considered beneficial and valuable and for whom, emphasising the importance of a thoughtful and inclusive decision-making process. We want to use this opportunity to present our attempt at providing more nuance to the context-dependent public value that data can create.

 Key questions guiding the workshop will be: 

  1. How should the public value of data use be understood and operationalised? 

  2. What conceptual challenges do we encounter when trying to measure public value?

  3. What questions do policy-makers, scholars, and practitioners have when working with these methods, and how does this affect approaches to the regulation of data uses?

  4. Finally, in what contexts would a tool such as PLUTO be most useful?

Note: There will be brief pre-reading providing relevant context for this workshop and PLUTO. We will provide the materials closer to the date. We will also ask you to click through the latest version of the tool before we commence the workshop.

The workshop addresses policy-makers, scholars, and practitioners who have experiences working with assessments, or who want to learn about existing methods and their implications. Our goal is to connect existing communities of practice that are developing data use methodologies across topical domains (e.g. in healthcare, environmental sciences, open government data), and across fields of application (such as for AI).