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Utrecht Data School

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Mapping best practices of ethically responsible data projects

Data ethics impact assessment with DEDA

Recently we started a new project together with the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) and seven municipalities. We will observe the implementation of data projects in seven different municipalities, starting from an initial data ethics impact assessment to their implementation into the public management process. Since 2016 we have had a lot of experience with data ethics impact assessments at numerous municipalities. Using our own Data Ethics Decision Aid, we assessed with partners from local governance organisations how their data projects would carry or affect public values. However, we had the possibility to follow up on what happens after the impact assessments.

Our research; “Ethically Responsible Implementation of Data Projects”, allows us to observe the entire process from conception until implementation. Our participatory observation will enable a comparatively analysis of best practices in the different projects. With reference to Moore’s strategic triangle on public values and innovation, we will also consider the context of each project. We will be looking at the legitimatization discourse (coalition agreements, local regulation, policy briefs and legal aspects), do a stakeholder analysis and look at the operational capacities of the municipality carrying out the project. At each step we will be reflecting on and analysing how these affect public values. Our case studies are data projects situated mostly in the domains of safety, or employment and social welfare.

The objective is to develop empirical data for our ongoing effort to adapt practices of good governance for the digital society and to provide municipalities with guidelines for ethically responsible implementation of data projects.

The project is financed by the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) and carried out jointly by the Utrecht Data School at Utrecht University and the municipalities.

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