NEWS17 March 2020

Open Data Institute calls for Covid-19 data transparency

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UK – Governments around the world should "act now" to publish the data behind their decision-making on the Covid-19 pandemic, the chief executive of the Open Data Institute has said.

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Sharing the data underpinning governments’ actions on the outbreak would reassure the public that “difficult decisions”, such as lockdowns and travel restrictions, are based on evidence, and ensure models are open to scrutiny from the scientific community, the organisation’s Jeni Tennison said.

Tennison called for epidemiological models used by governments around the world to be made available in a machine-readable format and under an open licence.

"People need to understand why governments are making the decisions they are making... Governments need to show that their decisions are based on scientific evidence, and the desire to save lives, rather than on political expediency," she wrote in a blog posted on the ODI website.

Scientists should be allowed to scrutinise the models used by governments, she added, stating: "In this collective effort to counter the virus, there may be ways of finding data and evidence that helps improve the models. We can’t know where the gaps are that need filling unless we see the models." 

Additionally, the organisation argued that sharing data would support other countries to manage the spread of the disease globally.