DataBeneComune: 134 organisations and 35,000 signatories demand more transparency on Covid-19 data.

The broad support for the campaign a few days after its launch is a sign that the issue concerns everyone. This is why the government cannot continue to ignore the demands.

19 November 2020 – Ten days after its launch, the DataBeneComune campaign has collected 35,000 signatures to the petition and the support of more than 134 civil society organisations and newspapers. This is a sign that the issue of data is shared not only by “insiders” but also by many citizens. They expect transparency and clarity from the government and do not intend to passively accept the decisions taken on the management of the Covid-19 emergency.

The requests made by the promoters revolve around greater transparency and openness of the data communicated by the Regions to the Government since the start of the epidemic. This is done in order to monitor and classify the epidemic risk; of the data that feed the bulletins with regional, provincial and municipal details, of the so-called COVID-19 Integrated Surveillance of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità; of the data relating to contagions within systems, especially school systems. The requests also include making public the scientific evidence, formulas and algorithms that correlate risk assessment. In addition, the restrictive measures and the related epidemiological impact. This is because it is important that citizens are aware of the reasons that have guided and are continuing to guide the Government’s choices.

We have sent the DataBeneComune letter with the demands also in paper form to the Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. All supporters of the campaign now hope that a response will not be long in coming.

Since the launch of this initiative, there have been a number of innovations, such as the private agreement between the Istituto Superiore di Sanità and the Accademia dei Lincei, which, while on the one hand goes in the direction of greater sharing of data, in fact continues to keep it confidential to a restricted circle, preventing all other researchers, journalists and civil society from having access to the same information.

“Expectations on this agreement were high, also because of previous statements of principle by the Accademia dei Lincei on open science. Now that the agreement is public, we read that it is a standard agreement of collaboration between two parties, without obvious outputs in terms of publication of new raw data – these are the words of the President of the association OnData, Andrea Borruso – we expect a greater effort of sharing by the Government and, at the same time, we hope that the Academy, from its favourable position, will push the Government so that a wider range of data can become fully common good.” 

“Transparency is never an end in itself,” said Davide Del Monte, Director of Transparency International Italy, “but it is the tool through which the community can understand the problem and thanks to which virtuous paths of collaboration can be activated to promote solutions and restore trust in the institutions that govern, which is now more essential than ever. Transparency is the key to trust.”

Opening data is not a purely technical issue

“Opening up data is not a purely technical issue since today, more than ever, data informs the decisions that impact on the lives of millions of people – this is the comment of Elisa Visconti, ActionAid’s Programmes Manager – Knowing and understanding why one’s own territories are subject to certain restrictions, knowing why one’s own business has to close down, Knowing and understanding why their territories are subject to certain restrictions, knowing why their businesses have to close down, sharing the reasons why their sons and daughters cannot go to school, knowing in detail the social and health intervention strategy is fundamental for the citizens of this country to play an aware and proactive role in the management of a crisis that must necessarily be managed collectively.

Indeed, citizens have proven not only that they are passive actors who can obey orders, but that they can play a central role in the response as well as in the reconstruction phase ahead. To be able to do this, they must know.” 

“Data sharing and strong, transparent research can save more lives, as shown by the experiences of countries that have invested more in research and innovation. These countries have been quick to flatten the curve of contagions by immediately making public the entire epidemiological database, previously anonymised. Says Luca Carra, director of Scienza in Rete. In Italy, on the other hand, data from regional and national observatories are currently only released to a few qualified research groups. But not to public scrutiny. This could trigger suspicions of censorship or polemics that are very counterproductive at the moment”.

More information on the campaign on the DataBeneComune website.

Unilab Svoltastudenti

Carlo Giovani – Matteo Giugovaz

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