On Tuesday the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) released its latest report, In Data We Trust: Unlocking the Value of Data in Ontario. With the COVID-19 crisis rapidly transforming the modern economy, the report outlines the need for Ontario to unlock opportunities and manage the threats of its increasingly data-driven economy.
“Long before COVID-19, it was evident that data has quickly become one of the most valuable resources in our economy, revolutionizing traditional business models across finance, health care, manufacturing, and many other sectors,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the OCC. “The reality is that almost everything we do as consumers relies on and is made possible to some extent by data analytics and related technologies, from fraud detection to supply chain optimization. In many ways, the pandemic has accelerated this transformation, as the need for digitization and the integration of health data have become more critical than ever.”
In Data We Trust reflects on the value of data innovation, explores lessons from COVID-19, and outlines organizational best practices and policy recommendations focused on privacy, cybersecurity, data sharing, and artificial intelligence (AI).
“Digital contact tracing, adoption of AI technologies, and expansion of 5G networks: all of these will benefit our society, and will require mobilizing data in responsible and innovative ways,” explains report author Claudia Dessanti, Senior Policy Analyst at the OCC.
Key takeaways include:
• Privacy frameworks should protect individual rights while encouraging data-driven innovation. Ontario and Canada should reinforce their principles-based approach with strong industry standards. Businesses and other organizations have an important role to play to ensure their own privacy practices enhance public trust.
• Cybersecurity breaches are affecting organizations of all kinds. More can be done to build capacity and limit future attacks with stronger adoption of industry standards, information sharing, and best practices around risk assessments, staff training, technology adoption, and insurance.
• Data sharing is an opportunity to improve efficiencies and spur innovation across the economy. Organizations should collaborate on shared standards and infrastructure to enable data sharing across all sectors, including health care, without compromising privacy. Meanwhile, governments should improve the use of their open data programs.
• AI is a competitive advantage that Ontario should leverage. Going forward, the province should prioritize expansion of regional broadband infrastructure, translate AI research expertise into widespread adoption of the technology, prepare the workforce for an AI-driven economy, and mitigate ethical risks related to AI use.
“The data revolution does come with certain risks, including the erosion of personal privacy, data security breaches, labour market disruption, ethical challenges, and increasing regional inequality,” added Dessanti. “That is why it is incumbent on the private and public sector to work together to create an environment that encourages data-driven innovation while protecting against these very real challenges.”