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About the Challenge

Learn more about the Future of Data Challenge.

Awarding $1.1M to transformative solutions that reimagine the data economy and support a more equitable data future for all.

The Future of Data Challenge seeks solutions aimed to reimagine how we think and talk about data, activating a more equitable data economy and responsibly unlocking data’s value for all. Register today and share your idea in one or more of our solution areas.

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Every interaction with data today is built on the assumption that it is property which can be monetized or leveraged for power. The focus on economic value and dominance creates incentives that drive harmful business models, exacerbate surveillance risks, and concentrate power and wealth.

These fundamentally undemocratic dynamics take so much away from society. They promote a lopsided bargain, in which people give more value than they receive. They put our rights and liberties at risk. They limit data’s full societal value through public and private capture. And these dynamics slow down innovation across the economy.  

History tells us our current relationship with data is not sustainable, smart, or just.

Until now, the core beliefs driving the data economy have largely gone unchallenged. But we have the opportunity and duty to rethink all of the ideas we carried forward from the last century and imagine entirely alternate data realities.

The Future of Data challenge encourages us to reconsider what data means and how we distribute the risks and benefits so that we actually balance the power and infuse fairness across data institutions, technologies, policies, and cultural norms.

JOIN US

The Future of Data Challenge invites innovators, activists, designers, researchers, risk-takers, entrepreneurs, cooperatives, trusts, and others — from every corner of the globe — to help identify transformative ideas that drive toward a fundamentally different data future that supports equity.  

Register by Thursday, August 25 at 3:00 PM Pacific and submit your application by Tuesday, September 20 at 3:00 PM Pacific. Please note: This deadline has been extended from the original deadline of September 15, 2022.

We are committed to a process that is open, transparent, and fair to recognize solutions that aim to reinvent a new data culture. Building on the fundamental need for privacy and looking to the horizon, we need to imagine entirely alternate data realities and find a healthy relationship with data — one that creates opportunities and advantages for all.

SOLUTION AREAS

While important, opening up access to data, making exchanges safer, placing limits, and installing penalties won’t alone fundamentally change the paradigm. We need a new data culture.

The Future of Data Challenge is seeking solutions focused on the following three areas to help evolve society’s upstream assumptions so that the rest of the data economy can operate more equitably and safely. Applicants are encouraged to pick one or more of the three areas to focus their solution.

01

Activism & Awareness

Deliver a narrative or public campaign strategy designed to accomplish one or more of these objectives:

  • change hearts and minds about data’s role in society
  • pursue justice and policy change
  • engage stakeholders in asserting their rights and agency
  • present a new vision for the data economy  

The strategy might show how the applicant will employ:

  • cultural organizing, and forge deep, emotional connections with audiences, centering artists, media makers, and cultural influencers
  • storytelling to drive engagement and persuasion
  • strategic communications, legal and public policy advocacy, grassroots and field organizing, or other strategic approaches

The strategy should include the applicant’s narrative/social change goals and objectives; specific target audiences at national or local levels; key message; approach and potential partners; tactics and timelines; and ways to measure progress toward an equitable data future.

"We need a new data culture. In order to experience truly equitable and inclusive societies, we need to imagine entirely alternate data realities. We hope this challenge encourages society to reconsider what data means, how we distribute the risks and benefits, and how we can infuse fairness across institutions, technology, policies, and cultural norms."
Sushant Kumar, Director of Responsible Technology - Omidyar Network
Jacob Duer, President & CEO of the Alliance:
02

Evidence, Design & Technology

Conceptualize new models that establish greater fairness in the data value chain through:  

  • evidence, which might include qualitative, empirical research
  • design-oriented concepts, which might conceive new institutions, processes, consumer experiences, business models, and market conditions
  • technology-based experiments, which might include those built to enhance privacy and security, on decentralized/distributed ledgers and other Web3 principles, with open-source foundations, and to enhance fiduciary relationships

The concepts should clarify the concept’s stakeholders, estimate its potential impact, and articulate any negative externalities or costs/burdens absorbed by the stakeholders.  

03

Governance & Policy

Propose new governance models and policy interventions that can demonstrate new ways of thinking about data, with consideration of the legal, technical, ethical, and security implications of supporting greater value creation for all stakeholders in the data economy and recommend appropriate guardrails.  

These proposals might include:

  • social, ethical, and economic frameworks
  • codes, contracts, and cultural norms
  • legislation that enable better data governance

The proposals should clarify the concept’s stakeholders, estimate its potential impact, and articulate any negative externalities or costs/burdens absorbed by the stakeholders.

DEFINITION OF DATA

Data refers to distinct pieces of information that are digitally generated by people, machines, and our environment. It is collected, processed, and stored for economic and social activity. We are particularly interested in data that reflects people’s identities, ideas, interests, locations, conditions, and online experiences and that are electronically collected and used by companies and governments (either passively or actively). We are concerned about data that is sensitive and vulnerable to exploitation. This can range from people’s biographical, health, financial, and education data to their travel routes, search histories, and communications. All forms and volumes of data, ways of generating or accessing data, aggregators, privacy levels, and uses are relevant to the challenge. 

AWARD SELECTION

All valid submissions will receive a set of normalized scores and feedback from five fellow Future of Data Challenge applicants using the scoring rubric. A subset of top-scoring submissions will then receive normalized scores from five of our Evaluation Panel judges, as well as valuable feedback that could be used to strengthen and refine your solution as you secure other support.  

Once a rank order of results from the Evaluation Panel has been calculated, the Selection Committee will recommend up to ten winners with consideration given to diversity of solutions, geography, feasibility, and other criteria that may incorporate considerations beyond the Evaluation Panel review.

Up to ten winners will receive $100,000 each to further develop and implement their proposed solutions. Winners will also gain access to mentorship and expertise from Omidyar Network. In addition, up to five additional promising solutions will be awarded $20,000 each. Winners and other promising solutions may receive exposure to a global network of potential supporters or investors through the Omidyar Network community, and may also have the opportunity to further showcase their solution through a public event.

QUESTIONS

The Future of Data Challenge will host Q&A webinars leading up to registration and submission deadlines. Information to sign up will be emailed to those who register for the challenge and will be available on News & Updates. In the meantime, please contact us to request more information regarding eligibility, requirements, and other challenge-related questions.

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