IT Innovation Supporting the Global Community in the Fight to Understand COVID-19

06 Aug 2020

As coronavirus spread across the globe, it was clear that there needed to be an extraordinary level of co-operation and collaboration to manage and ultimately overcome the virus. While politicians sought to safeguard the health service, protect the economy and introduce workable practices for social distancing, the research data community rose to the challenge of making sense of what was going on and trying to provide guidance. This would involve many disciplines, not just clinical and epidemiological, but the social sciences looking at how communities and individuals cope. Researchers would have to collaborate within as well as beyond these disciplines. They would have to share data to maximise the benefit and optimise the chances of robust and speedy outcomes. Data sharing would have to timely, but also handled ethically and within legal frameworks. This might mean too that researchers could help policy makers by highlighting the blockers and enablers to open and timely collaboration

Taking this perspective, the Research Data Alliance called on researchers everywhere to help produce guidance for researchers and recommendations for policy makers during pandemics like COVID-19.

IT Innovation responded to this call via Brian Pickering, the Faculty Research Ethics Committee Chair and member of the Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) panel. As well as working within the Social Science working group, Brian also co-moderated the cross-cutting Legal & Ethics Considerations group. The RDA COVID-19 document is now out for public comment, and is scheduled for release at the end of June this year