Data ethics is described by the Open Data Institute's (ODI) as a
" A branch of ethics that evaluates data practices with the potential to adversely impact on people and society-in data collection, sharing and use."
Colouring London is using the ODI's Data Ethics Canvas to identify and manage potential ethical issues throughout the lifecycle of its project.
Summaries of questions posed by the Data Ethics Canvas, and our responses to them, which will be updated on an ongoing basis, are included below
WHO is PROVIDING OUR DATA?
Our data are crowdsourced from multiple sources. These include residents, local and central government departments, non-profit organisations, education and research bodies, commercial organisations and international contributors. On our 'More info' pages, for each data category, we ask all users to ensure our data are able to open with third party use without infringing copyright restrictions. This means that data either need to be created from scratch, from observing a building first hand, or be derived only from sources which permit open release with third party use. However our forthcoming user guides and videos need to make this more explicit.
LIMITATIONS IN OUR DATA SOURCES?
We are still at an early stage of data collection. For many of our categories we working with experts in the specific field to identify subcategories of relevance and way in which the statistical data should best be collected. To address the core issue of accuracy, each data category will have an accessible edit history, a source box, a verification button, and a query button to flag any issues. In the age category for example issues of uncertainty of date will be dealt with by, a) including year, decade and century categories b) adding an 'add weblink' option to enable more information about the building's history and additions and extensions to be included, and c) by asking users to supply the earliest and latest possible start dates. In terms of bias......
HOW ARE WE SHARING THE DATA WE COLLECT?
Colouring London data are collected as part of the project is made available for download under a liberal open data license (ODbL) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Database_License
Colouring London also distributes its program as free software:
Colouring London Copyright (C) 2018 Tom Russell and Colouring London contributors. This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version. This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details. You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/>.
A key issue for us however is the fact that until OSMM data are made fully open we are not permitted to allow the geometry of the building, nor OS address data to be downloaded. Unil this time we are crowdsourcing as much open address data as possible.
Data release compared to existing data
Many private companies already hold and analyse data on residents homes and will have access council tax band data, what home are worth, what companies a building may be related to. An analogy to help explain this might be credit scores, these used to be something the banks used but you didn't know, about whereas you now know what the banks know which redresses the information asymmetry and gives you a chance to fix your credit score. Colouring London will similarly address information asymmetry by providing the public with their data collected by their government in an easy to understand way, currently you can only get that through paid platforms which advantages them and the private sector. It might be a bit surprising to the general public to known how much data is collected which relates to wider discussions on all of this. Buildings however are different to people so the issues are different. For most of us your home is publicly visible and we are comfortable with looking inside the homes of others on Zoopla and knowing what someone paid for their house. Colouring London is designed to address structurual issues and maintain privacy.....