Around the world we are facing a range of social, economic and environmental challenges. A safer, sustainable and more resilient future will require us to innovate and adapt the ways in which we engineer and maintain our infrastructure, energy and transport networks.
Data has a role to play in addressing these challenges. But to maximise value from data we need to increase access in ways that build trust, conform to legal and ethical frameworks, and deliver value for the public good.
This report explores how increasing access to data and strengthening data infrastructure across the engineering sector can deliver a range of benefits, not least by increasing safety. It highlights a range of examples of where projects across the engineering related sectors are demonstrating value and discusses some of the barriers to sharing data. It also briefly looks at how other sectors are overcoming these barriers using a range of regulatory and community driven approaches.
The UK government and Lloyd’s Register Foundation are both funding work that explores how to increase safety, drive change in our utility sectors and change how we build, maintain and monitor the built environment for the public good. It is important that we look for opportunities for these programmes to complement one another to create impact, help scale innovation and build data infrastructure – including those shared across international boundaries.
The Open Data Institute (ODI) and Lloyd’s Register Foundation’s Manifesto for sharing engineering data for the public good is intended to build alignment and a shared vision across engineering programmes and sectors. The manifesto recognises the need for leadership from across the sector, and sets out recommendations for governments, regulators, industry bodies and the private sector. Sixteen organisations including the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, Royal Academy of Engineering and Mott MacDonald Smart Infrastructure have already endorsed this manifesto (on pages 5 to 10) and others are encouraged to do the same.
By taking a purposeful, challenge-led approach to solving the challenges we face, the ODI and Lloyd’s Register Foundation want to help embed best practices and explore new business models and ways of working. This needs to be balanced with investment in strengthening and maintaining the data infrastructure that enables innovation. The engineering sector needs to explore and use the full range of data access models, creating new institutions where needed, to help build a data ecosystem where important data is accessible and data is used and shared in trustworthy ways.
While sharing and opening data will be an important part of addressing our global challenges, governments, regulators, industry bodies and the private sector must also encourage and enable an open culture, which applies open standards, open access, open source and open innovation to drive innovation that shares engineering data and makes it work for the public good.