An agenda for advancing trusted data collaboration in cities

Takeaways from our Open Data Action Labs on accelerating data collaborations in cities by removing obstacles to Data Sharing Agreements

Hannah Chafetz
Data Stewards Network
4 min readMar 20


By: Hannah Chafetz, Sampriti Saxena, Adrienne Schmoeker, Stefaan G. Verhulst, & Andrew J. Zahuranec

Photo by Simon Infanger on Unsplash

This blog details the proceedings of our second Action Lab on Data Sharing Agreements for smart cities. Learn more about the initiative by reading our blog post summarizing Lab One or by visiting the Open Data Policy Lab website.

On February 27th, The GovLab, Open Data Policy Lab and TrustRelay co-hosted our second Action Lab on accelerating data collaborations in the city of Lucerne. Joined by experts across several domains including smart cities, the law, and data ecosystem, this effort was focused on developing solutions that could improve the design of Data Sharing Agreements and address the data collaborative challenges the city of Lucerne is currently facing.

Our discussion focused on three main areas. First, we explored the principles that Data Stewards can use to negotiate how data should be handled. Second, we reviewed the mechanisms that Data Stewards can use to understand the data before establishing a Data Sharing Agreement. Lastly, we assessed what is needed to implement each aspect of our Contractual Wheel of Data Collaboration–a tool developed as a part of the Contracts for Data Collaborations initiative that seeks to capture the elements involved in data collaborations and Data Sharing Agreements.

Following the session, we processed the many ideas gathered across each of those domains. Together they provide an agenda for advancing trusted data collaboration.

Pathways Forward

In what follows, we provide key suggestions from this Action Lab. In the coming weeks, we aim to develop these pathways further through prototyping, studios, blogs, proposals, and visualizations.

Ahead of prototyping, we are looking for your feedback on which of these pathways resonates most and if you might be interested in being a part of any of them.

  1. The Elements of Principled Negotiations: Those seeking to develop a Data Sharing Agreement often struggle to work with collaborators or agree to common ends. There is a need for a common resource that Data Stewards can use to initiate a principled negotiation process. To address this need, we would identify the principles to inform negotiations and the elements that could help achieve those principles. For example, participants voiced a need for fairness, transparency, and reciprocity principles. These principles could be supported by having a shared language or outlining the minimum legal documents required for each party. The final product would be a checklist or visualization of principles and their associated elements.
  2. Data Responsibility Principles by Design: There is not only a need to define the principles for negotiation, but also document how they can be operationalized and complied with throughout the design process. This effort would include a visualization or map of the principles and how they might be actualized as a product. For example, the ‘transparency’ principle of data collaboration might translate to a public advisory board or data dictionary. The visualization could also include suggested tools that could be used within each step of the design process.
  3. Readiness Matrix: Many different elements need to be in place before data stewards can initiate the data collaboration. There is a need for a structured feasibility assessment to help organizations understand whether they are ready to take part in a data collaboration before the Data Sharing Agreement is designed. Towards this end, the Readiness Matrix would include a checklist that data holders and users could use to evaluate the maturity of different aspects of the data collaboration including skills and experience level. The intention would be to learn if stakeholders are ready to take part in the data collaboration before signing the Data Sharing Agreement.
  4. A Decision Provenance Approach for Data Collaboration: There are often challenges understanding if those looking to develop a data collaboration have the mandate to do so. There is a need for a standardized decision making tool that can be used to assess stakeholders’ mandates and responsibilities. Building on the Readiness Matrix above, this effort would include developing a decision provenance framework to outline what and who needs to be a part of data collaboration negotiations. The framework would help define who is responsible and accountable for each dataset and who can sign the Data Sharing Agreement.
  5. The Contractual Wheel of Data Collaboration 2.0: The GovLab’s Contractual Wheel of Data Collaboration is a tool developed as a part of the Contracts for Data Collaborations (C4DC) initiative aimed to support Data Stewards and decision-makers looking to establish Data Collaboratives. Significant challenges were identified in how to complete each category of the Wheel. Through our next iteration of the Wheel, we aim to break down the components of a data collaboration into further extremities–as suggested by participants. This will include developing a map for each component (Why, How, etc.) and outlining who should be involved and what needs to be documented. In addition, we will explore what kinds of templates could be useful within each component.
  6. A Repository of Legal Drafting Technologies: Designing Data Sharing Agreements is a time and resource intensive process. There is a need for innovation in how agreements are designed with the goal of increasing the speed. This effort would focus on how advancements in legal technologies could be leveraged to accelerate the speed of data collaborations. Specifically, we would explore how artificial intelligence (AI) tools like Chat-GPT could help design Data Sharing Agreements and develop an online repository of those tools. As part of this initiative, we could also develop an interactive machine learning interface on the C4DC website that uses such technologies to draft an agreement.

We encourage you to please share any feedback on the above Agenda or indicate which pathways resonate most by emailing Stefaan Verhulst at To learn more about the Open Data Policy Lab, visit