Use case 1: Mapping the ecosystem of a Covid-19 symptom tracker in the UK

Visualising data ecosystems can be particularly useful when the context is complex, not well understood or not yet fully developed. The following example illustrates how data ecosystem mapping was used to identify opportunities for increasing collaboration in the Covid-19 symptom tracker data ecosystem in the UK.

The researchers started by understanding the current state of data exchange. They mapped the existing landscape as it was at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic (Figure 2). The goal was to get a clear understanding of the current ecosystem before identifying potential opportunities. They discovered that:

  • multiple actors each occupy different roles

  • actors collect data towards a variety of outcomes

  • actors rarely work together

  • government intervention encourages some data sharing between the actors

  • there is an absence of compatible sharing mechanisms (eg standards for data) to exchange data between the actors.

To increase efficiency and enable data sharing, the researchers identified and added the roles, actors, flows of data and standards for data exchange that were absent from the original map. This time the map (Figure 3) shows a future where all actors work together and systems are in place to increase tangible and intangible value exchanges. In this example, an independent data steward is introduced to play an intermediary role to manage the aggregation and processing of data.

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