Dubai – MENA Herald: Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG), a research and teaching institution specializing in public policy in the Arab world, organized the fifth session of the Policy Council series convening industry experts from government entities, academia and the media to address the ethical and social implications and challenges of data sharing in the region and discuss policy and strategy options to safeguard against related risks.

Themed “Data Sharing: Implications and Challenges”, the fifth Policy Council session examined the importance of establishing an ethical and moral foundation for data sharing. The panelists outlined policy responses needed to limit and counteract risks of new data sharing technologies.

Furthermore, the outcomes of a survey conducted by MBRSG was also shared, it highlights various benefits of data sharing and identifies inequality of access to technology, as well as violations of privacy and breaches of security as primary risks of data sharing.

Highlighting the emirate’s goal to transition into a ‘Smart City’, Dr. Ali Sebaa Al Marri, Executive President of MBRSG, said: “Dubai is well on its way to becoming a ‘smart city’ with an advanced information and communication technologies (ICT) infrastructure. While Dubai’s digital infrastructure is still in the infantile stages, the emirate is prepared to adequately assess and address the ethical implications and social conceptions of data sharing and privacy to ensure that the emirate becomes truly smart.”

Steps have already been taken to encourage data sharing in the city, particularly through the recently announced Dubai Data Law 13, which aims to make it easier for public and private sector entities to access the data that they collectively produce.

Speaking on Dubai Data Law, Abdulla AlMadani, CEO of Corporate Technical Support Services and Chairperson of Dubai Open Data Committee of Dubai Roads and Transport Association (RTA), said: “The law aims to ensure privacy, security and sensitivity of data while generating rich and open data that enhances quality of services and enables individuals, governments and businesses to forecast and resolve issues and live smarter lives. We will continue to work with the federal government to align our data and privacy law initiatives.”

Highlighting two main challenges to data sharing, AlMadani said: “Individuals and businesses share data without understanding how it can benefit or harm them. It is critical that the public understands the consequences of data sharing and witnesses the tangible results of their action. The second challenge is altering the mentality of data custodians or “data huggers” to share information for the greater benefit of society.”

Adding to this, Younus Al Nasser, Chief Data Officer of Dubai Data Establishment, said: “The Dubai Data Establishment has the authority to access and question the sensitivity of data, thereby encouraging transparency within the government and the society. With data sharing technologies, we can innovate and facilitate new opportunities to sustain the development of the country. Data will enhance quality of life for Dubai’s inhabitants as well as convene variety of talent to discover creative solutions.”

Discussing data sharing in the cultural context, Majid Almadhloum, Program Director, Centre of Digital Innovation at Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), said: “With over 200 nationalities in the UAE, it is critical that we adopt a holistic approach when it comes to data sharing platforms. Considering the ethical implications, no one individual or entity can be left behind. We must support transparency and ensure individuals have easy and equal access to data. Further to this, government entities and policy responses should provide insurance against arising risks and help people see the value in sharing data.”

Speaking from the perspective of the private sector, Jihad Tayara, Vice President of Business Development and Strategies at du, said: “A ‘Smart City’ platform with data sharing solutions will enable governments to adopt educated policy recommendations and improve the overall quality of life. The main challenge is classifying data and ensuring that the majority of data is not restricted from the public but rather shared on the platform.”

The Knowledge and Policy Council provides insights and recommendations into areas that impact government performance, while enhancing personal and institutional communication to facilitate intragovernmental relations.

The Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government is committed to promoting good governance through enhancing the region’s capacity for effective public policy. The school uses a four-pronged approach, which includes applied research in public policy and management, academic programs in public policy and administration, executive education programs, and knowledge forums for scholars and policy makers.