Pilot initiative to simplify handling of data
The need to be able to share, analyse and store data is growing. In March 2022, the president of KTH gave the green light to establish a new data hub aimed to boost data stewardship competence at KTH. To create a system everyone at KTH can use, the hub will partly be modelled on the Senseable Stockholm Lab, a collaboration on data-driven research between the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the City of Stockholm.
”Our goal is to find IT services that work for researchers throughout KTH and external parties that exist in different constellations”, says Kristin Halverson, data-steward coordinator at KTH.
A good IT structure is part of the puzzle for creating a data hub, but people who can advise on data management are also needed. Within the area, several different regulations and considerations need to be made.
”As it stands now, researchers are often part of a group where they share data and do analyses. However, once they communicate the actual research results, they are not allowed to share the data but only the study itself, which makes it difficult, says Nazar Dino Mohammed, a research engineer working on the creation of the data hub.
Includes various services
In the data hub, users will be able to access various services. This includes programmes that can analyse and visualise, multiple storage services, and the possibility of uploading and sharing data. The most important thing for the team is to build something the researchers want and can use. This is where Senseable Stockholm Lab somes. Collaborations with partners in other countries raise several challenges.
”Some laws and regulations say that the data stored in Sweden must also be in Sweden, so a challenge is that MIT is outside Europe. We hope that when the hub is in place, it will be easier because the same data can be used several times and shared”, says Nazar Dino Mohammed.
A new data act will come into force
A new data act on how public authorities can make data available has also come into force, the Act on the public sector's availability of data, making it somewhat easier for researchers to share data. According to the new law, data must be able to be requested for further use instead of today as public documents.
”There will be challenges with the new law; according to it, you must be able to combine data and there Agency for Digital Government (DIGG) encourages solutions; at the same time, there are regulations for protecting data that are important to keep in mind”, says Kristin Halverson.
In the work setting up the hub and implementing the data steward role at KTH, the team is now looking to other countries. The Netherlands is one of the countries that was the first to establish something similar at university level, and the model has been successful, especially at TU Delft, which has been a leader in the field. It has also been introduced in Finland at Aalto University outside Helsinki.
”It is essential for us to learn from the challenges they have encountered and how they have solved them. One of the challenges we face at KTH is to explain the role of data steward; even there, we can look at how to solve it in the Netherlands and Finland”, says Kristin Halverson.