Thank you for making the ADRF Network Inaugural Conference a success! In partnership with the Massive Data Institute at Georgetown University, the ADRF Network hosted its first research conference on November 13 and 14 at Georgetown University.
The conference was intended to highlight progress in the field of using administrative data for social science research and policymaking. Over 140 people from research institutions, government agencies, and the private sector came together to share approaches and strategize about ways to advance this line of work. A number of broad themes emerged throughout the conference.
Opportunities of Private Sector Data
There’s no doubt that large volumes of data from the private sector have the potential to open up new avenues of research. According to a new Future of Privacy Forum report released at the conference, researchers are beginning to see more opportunities in private-academic research collaborations. But even successful partnerships often rely on one-off relationships rather than systematic approaches to data sharing. More needs to be done to mitigate the perceived risks that companies have that prevent them from broadening the scope of their data sharing. At the same time, there are opportunities for us as a network to provide a venue for bringing together researchers and key stakeholders to share experiences and develop resources that will improve the environment for cross-sector data sharing.
Developing Data Intermediaries
The conference also provided a space to discuss the important functions of data intermediaries in increasing data sharing opportunities. The federal government is poised to move in the direction of establishing the National Secure Data Service, an intermediary that would facilitate the sharing of data across federal agencies. But the conference also sparked conversations on how intermediary organizations can support our nation’s data infrastructure beyond what is recommended at the federal level. For instance, intermediaries could fill the role of brokering the transaction of valuable data between private sector companies and researchers in the public sector. This idea was proposed in a new Beeck Center report released at the conference and echoed by panelists during the private sector session. Through our working group on data sharing governance, the ADRF network aims to create tools that will help existing and emerging intermediaries function better in facilitating the data sharing process.
Continuing to Build Trust
Finally, the importance of building trust resonated at every session. The success of sharing administrative data rests on a strong foundation of trust – between data holders and data users and between the research community and the public. Building the foundation of trust is essential to breaking down barriers and making sustainable progress in this field.
We are grateful to the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for sponsoring the conference and developing the vision of the ADRF Network.
We hope to see you at our next conference in Fall 2018!