By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The University of the Philippines’ (UP) pandemic response team has emphasized the importance of open data sharing in strengthening the cooperation among the science community, policymakers, and other sectors to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in a multi-dimensional approach.
“Nowhere is the need for open data as clearly manifested than in the current COVID-19 crisis. In preparing for, responding to, and recovering from the impacts of health hazards or any natural hazard for that matter, data must be used to generate knowledge,” the team said on Tuesday.
While some data are not fully open to the public like those for internal government purposes, the experts called on other agencies to share relevant data that can help capable institutions make scientific assessments for discussions on the evolving crisis to come up with better peer-reviewed science.
“Regardless of technology, it is important that the reporting system be standardized and regularized, integrated into the existing data tracker as much as possible, and made open to the public,” they said.
The UP team also asked private firms who possess data that can benefit researchers to contribute to the COVID-19 related data already shared in the COVID-tracker Data Drop.
“Making all data sources open, while also being mindful of the same data privacy protocols that the DOH (Department of Health) is following, can further empower both official and unofficial stakeholders i.e., commissioned and independent scientists and researchers, local governments officials, and IATF/NTF decision-makers in the battle ahead,” it pointed out.
“Without access to full government data entrusted to select private sector groups, the task for an independent corroboration—the hallmark of any scientific undertaking—becomes impossible, to the detriment of public welfare and interest,” it added.
Citing the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO), the team said: “it is imperative now more than ever to strengthen/build international inter-continental and national scientific cooperation between scientists, decision/policymakers, private practitioners, industries and health professionals and civil society for a multi-dimensional approach to tackling the pandemic.”
“This calls for open access to scientific knowledge and know-how, data sharing, and evidence-based policy and decision-making,” it noted.
“Because the battles ahead will no longer be just about health, this call for more open data sharing is a call to other sectors as well. We need to resolve our data issues posthaste to secure public trust in the plans, decisions, and pronouncements of the government and its private partners,” it added.