Four projects - including a scheme which supports the privacy of homeless people and one which aims to tackle issues around the use of genomic information in healthcare - have received a total of over £275,000 funding from the Information Commissioner’s Office Grants Programme. The successful applicants for the programme’s second round of grants also include research into data protection in ‘smart’ homes and the use of public sector data by researchers.
The ICO Grants Programme was launched in 2017 and aims to support independent, innovative research into practical products and solutions which benefit the UK public by tackling significant new areas of data protection and privacy risk.
Cardiff University has received the largest award of £99,804 to develop a training programme for researchers working with a wide range of routine public sector data. This will be achieved through a survey of researchers who currently use routine data and also those who may do so in the future. It will also hold discussion groups with UK data providers and a series of workshops with members of the public to explore their understanding of research that uses such data.
Oxford University has been awarded £81,290 to conduct a study of six smart homes to examine current privacy preferences and to develop new tools, interfaces, and approaches to smart home privacy. The project team will also work with designers, product teams and compliance officers to understand how these alternative design approaches might be integrated into their processes and to disseminate the resulting best practices.
Health policy thinktank PHG Foundation has been handed £72,924 to investigate the impact of GDPR on regulating pseudonymised genomic data in healthcare and how any potential associated risks may be mitigated. The team will undertake public engagement after a report on their initial findings is published.
Finally, the charity St Martin’s in the Field has received £21,197 to engage with homeless people in London to better understand their knowledge and awareness about how their personal information is used. It will provide an effective means of informing homeless people of their data rights and how to enforce them, as well as creating an outreach process that can be taken up by other organisations.
Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “The ICO Grants Programme is a key part of our Technology Strategy and a further demonstration of our commitment to being a relevant, capable and collaborative regulator which has an eye on the future as well as fulfilling our regulatory duties in the present.
“Along with the first grants recipients, these latest projects will help us to identify and address new threats and opportunities while supporting new and innovative ways of thinking about data protection and privacy.”