Data for Common Purpose Initiative (DCPI)


Data for Common Purpose Initiative (DCPI) is the Forum's unified voice on data governance, across platforms and industries. Together, with a community of industry, government and civil society leaders, we are co-designing a new approach to data governance focused on:

(1) surfacing opportunities for unlocking data for common purposes, 

(2) creating and promulgating data governance models that equitably apportion risks and rewards, and 

(3) articulating parameters for responsible, fair and ethical use of data.


Many institutions have focused their attention and resources on data protection and privacy. Not only has this approach failed to harness the full value of data, but it has also led to the rapid fragmentation of data governance policies and impeded data sharing for agreed-upon purposes.


Creating a new flexible data governance model that allows for the combining of data from personal, commercial, and government sources, while still respecting rights, will positively empower a variety of stakeholders while removing unintended policy barriers.

The DCPI is built on the belief that orienting data policy and data models around common purposes, such as specific use cases, will unlock opportunities for both the public good and commercial spheres. We believe that data can and should be treated differently depending on its actual and anticipated use and that 4IR technologies are on a path to enabling differentiated permissioning of the same data, dependent upon context.


Imagine a world in which devices collect information about your vitals and lifestyle, where you set permissions around what your data can be used for, such as research and testing around the cure for Covid-19, or dementia, or cancer. As new initiatives are launched for your permitted purposes, your relevant data will automatically be encrypted, anonymized, and transmitted along with digital rights management rules to ensure that the data cannot be used for other purposes (much like happens today with music). The data brought together by this aggregation can then be utilized by algorithms to identify trends human experts can miss and raise recommendations for professionals to review. 

Additionally, you could choose to set permissions for commercial purposes. If someone wanted to use your (anonymized) data for prescribed purposes, such as market research, you could opt in explicitly and get paid. The valuation of the data used could be divided by purpose and defined by a “commodity exchange,” which would set the value of the data output for specific use cases (much like happens with intellectual property today). This would allow you to get paid at the moment of consumption, and simultaneously enable financial authorities to clarify taxable income. Under certain circumstances, this process could reduce bias in datasets and provide streams of income over time. 

These scenarios are entirely plausible, even today. However, without proper protocols and governance, society risks creating a world in which access to data is overly restricted, impeding significant human progress and innovation, or in which authorities require data sharing without striking a balance that respects the rights of the individual parties involved, including businesses.

The DCPI will focus on, among other topics:

  • questions around access, rights to use, rewards;

  • governance based on intended purpose including the need to authenticate the source, interoperability, and reliability of the data;

  • discovering methods to create trust between stakeholders entering into data collaborations

  • defining the protocols for proactive consent vs. on-demand dynamic consent;

  • valuation models for data outcomes (IP exchanges and tokenization);

  • data protection and privacy rights, including encryption and anonymization;

  • ethical and fiduciary use of data.

The DCPI builds on the work undertaken at the C4IR over the past two years and results in a significant step forward in ensuring that the Fourth Industrial Revolution benefits everyone.  If you would like to engage in these efforts please complete our introductory survey.

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