Technological advances in the health sector, innovations in crime prevention and a scheme to verify the IDs of under-16s are among ten projects selected out of 64 applicants to take part in the inaugural Information Commissioner’s Office Regulatory Sandbox, designed to support organisations using personal data to develop products and services.
Other products and services which will be tested and scrutinised for compliance with data protection law will include innovations in housing, road traffic management, student welfare and tackling bias in artificial intelligence.
The sandbox, which was first announced in March last year, will support organisations which are developing innovative products and services using personal data with a clear public benefit. Participants will be able to draw on the ICO’s advice on data protection by design, mitigating any risks as they test their innovations, while ensuring that appropriate protections and safeguards are in place.
The 10 projects are:
FutureFlow: A regulatory tech start-up designing a forensic analytics platform that monitors the flow of funds in the financial system. Its platform enables multiple financial institutions, regulators and agencies to tap into each other’s intelligence on electronic financial crime without relying on personally identifying information.
Greater London Authority: The organisation’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) will use the sandbox to better understand how public health and social services can be managed to prevent and reduce crime, with a focus on early intervention.
Heathrow Airport: The company’s Automation of the Passenger Journey programme aims to streamline the passenger journey by using biometrics, with facial recognition technology being used at check-in, self-service bag drops and boarding gates to create a seamless experience for passengers.
Jisc: The not-for-profit company is developing a code of practice with universities and colleges wishing to investigate the use of student activity data to improve their provision of student support services.
The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government: This is a partnership with Blackpool Council and the Department of Work & Pensions which aims to match personal information controlled by multiple parties in order to create a dataset to understand more about the private rented sector in Blackpool, who lives there, and how the quality of properties can be improved.
NHS Digital: The health service organisation is working on the design and development of a central mechanism for collecting and managing patient consents for the sharing of their healthcare data for secondary use purposes, including medical research and regulated clinical trials.
Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK: The pharma giant is exploring the use of voice technology within healthcare. Through its Voice Enabled Solutions project, Novartis is working with healthcare professionals to design solutions to make patient care easier, and addressing the data privacy challenges posed by this emerging technology.
Onfido: The organisation will research how to identify and mitigate algorithmic bias in machine learning models used for remote biometric-based identity verification.
Tonic Analytics: The Galileo Programme was launched in 2017 and is jointly sponsored by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and Highways England. Galileo’s primary focus is on the ethical use of innovative data analytics technology to improve road safety while also preventing and detecting crime.
TrustElevate: The company, which provides secure authentication and authorisation for under- 16s, claims to be the first business globally to provide verified parental consent and age checking of a child. It is working to enable companies to comply with regulatory requirements, and to make the Internet a safer environment for children, facilitating a more robust digital ecosystem and economy.
The next stage will be to agree and develop detailed plans for each sandbox participant before work starts on testing their products and services. It is envisaged all participants will have completed the process by September 2020.
Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “The ICO supports innovation in technology and exciting new uses of data, while ensuring that people’s privacy and legal rights are protected. We have always said that privacy and innovation are not mutually exclusive and there doesn’t need to be an either-or choice between the two.
“The sandbox will help companies and public bodies deliver new products and services of real benefit to the public, with assurance that they have tackled built-in data protection at the outset.
“Engaging with businesses and innovators in the sandbox is also a valuable exercise in horizon scanning - the ICO can identify new developments in technology and innovation and the potential opportunities and challenges they may provide.”