Understanding "where" is one of the most powerful insights we have to help us manage the world around us. Increasingly detailed data about places, and people and things in places, continually offers new insights and capabilities, and new kinds of power. This new power should be exercised responsibly and fairly.
The Benchmark Initiative was created by Omidyar Network and Ordnance Survey to increase awareness of the many potential risks of using location data, to identify ethical principles, and to promote good practice. Benchmark is now also supporting international collaboration to agree and promote a shared view of what good practice with location data looks like, as the Locus Charter.
We believe that there is a pressing need for agreed international guidelines on responsible use of location data, to help guide users to good practice, and hold poor practice to account. Benchmark has joined with the American Geographical Society’s EthicalGeo program to support collaboration on a new global charter to guide the responsible use of location data.
Our aim is that the “The Locus Charter” will become a set of common guiding principles to help practitioners and decision-makers use location data for good. We will convene a series of workshops over the coming months with location data and data ethics experts from across the globe to draft an initial version of the Charter’s scope, principles and approach. Following this the Charter will be opened for public contributions before being finalised later this year.
Benchmark delivers public events to explore applications areas and challenges, including bias, transparency, privacy, imbalances of power, anonymity and consent. The pandemic has put responsible use of location data on everyone’s agenda. Location data is essential for tracking infection, managing privacy, supporting safe distancing at work and in public places, and delivering healthcare based on local needs. It is more important than ever to explore how to use this data for individuals and the public good, now and in the longer term. In response, Benchmark is now presenting panel discussions that explore these crucial themes.
The Benchmark programme supports leading innovators to explore and develop solutions related to geospatial data ethics. Our entrepreneurs work to deliver practical and real-world applications and services to illustrate the risks, opportunities and ethical considerations in using location data. Participants also help advance our shared understanding of how to use ethical principles in practice.
Currently there are 4 entrepreneurs in residence working on a variety of projects investigating areas of transport data, health, and public understanding of risk.