Skip to the content

ICO chooses first 10 data projects for Sandbox


Mark Say Managing Editor

Get UKAuthority News


Public sector data projects have come to the fore in those chosen by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to go through the beta phase of its Sandbox programme.

They include efforts to use data in reducing urban violence, investigating student activity in higher education, developing a mechanism for patient consent in the NHS, and using analytics to improve road safety.

The programme has been created by the ICO to support the development of data products and services that have a demonstrable public value while complying with data protection rules. The organisation is providing its expertise to support the programmes going into the sandbox.

It has chosen 10 projects from 64 applications, coming from a selection of public and private sector organisations, but all with an element of public service in their potential:

  • The Greater London Authority’s Violence Reduction Unit is using crime, social and healthcare data to better understand how public health and social services can be managed to help prevent crime.

  • Higher education technology organisation Jisc is developing a code of practice with universities and colleges wishing to use student activity data to improve support services.

  • NHS Digital is working on the design and development of a central mechanism for collecting and managing patient consents for sharing their healthcare data for secondary purposes such as research and clinical trials.

  • The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is working with Blackpool Council and the Department for Work and Pensions on matching personal information from different parties to create a dataset on the private rented sector. The aim is to use this to help improve the quality of the properties.

  • Heathrow Airport is running a programme to streamline the passenger journey through biometrics, notably facial recognition.

  • Regtech start-up FutureFlow is designing a forensic analytics platform to monitor the flow of funds in the financial system. This could be used by businesses, regulators and agencies to leverage each other’s intelligence on electronic financial crime without a heavy reliance on personally identifying information.

  • Norvatis Pharmaceuticals UK is exploring the use of voice technology in healthcare while addressing the data privacy issues.

  • Software-as-a-service firm Onfido is researching how to identify and mitigate any algorithmic bias in machine learning models used for remote biometric based identity verification.

  • Tonic Analytics is exploring the use of satellite data analytics to improve road safety and prevent and detect crime.

  • Authentication specialist TrustElevate is aiming to help companies comply with regulatory requirements in providing verified parental consent and age checking of under-16s.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “The ICO supports innovation in technology and exciting new uses of data, while ensuring that people’s privacy and legal rights are protected. We have always said that privacy and innovation are not mutually exclusive and there doesn’t need to be an either-or choice between the two.

“The sandbox will help companies and public bodies deliver new products and services of real benefit to the public, with assurance that they have tackled built-in data protection at the outset.

“Engaging with businesses and innovators in the sandbox is also a valuable exercise in horizon scanning – the ICO can identify new developments in technology and innovation and the potential opportunities and challenges they may provide.”

The next stage of the process will be to agree and develop detailed plans for each sandbox participant before work starts on testing their products and services. It is envisaged all participants will have exited the sandbox by September 2020.

Image by Tiia Monto, CC BY-SA 3.0, from Wikimedia Commons

Register For Alerts

Keep informed - Get the latest news about the use of technology, digital & data for the public good in your inbox from UKAuthority.