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The Role of Good Governance and the Rule of Law in Building Public Trust in Data-Driven Responses to Public Health Emergencies

A COVID-19 Rapid Response research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council on behalf of UK Research and Innovation (grant AH/V015214/1)

This project, at the intersection of law, ethics, citizen deliberation, public health and data science, aims to develop a values-based framework to help understand and address the challenges posed by data-driven responses to public health emergencies and the need to build public trust.


In their COVID-19 responses, states have relied on data-driven approaches to justify far-reaching measures including closing entire business sectors and categories of travel, curtailing personal liberties and requiring compliance with new technologies for contact tracing and social distancing.

To be effective, such measures must be internationally co-ordinated, nationally adopted and adhered to by a high proportion of the public. Trust underpins both national adoption and public adherence: trust in international institutions, in the measures, and their scientific foundations.

This project examines two critical enablers of that trust: good governance and the rule of law. It aims to provide practical guidance on how international and national institutions can build public trust in the processes by which they design and implement data-driven responses to public health emergencies. The research consists of four interconnected work packages which examine

  1. International governance frameworks for public health emergencies
  2. Values-based principles to guide data-driven responses by national institutions including governments, parliaments, courts and police
  3. Reforms that may be needed to data governance (national and international) given the scale of personal data sharing that is required
  4. A citizen jury deliberation on the trustworthiness of data-driven measures and what additional safeguards may be needed.

Project Participants

  • Bingham Centre and BIICL: Jan van Zyl Smit (Principal Investigator), Julinda Beqiraj, Jean-Pierre Gauci, Richard Mackenzie-Gray Scott, Irene Pietropaoli, Nyasha Weinberg and Constantinos Yallourides.
  • University of Edinburgh, Global Academy of Health: Claudia Pagliari
  • University of Newcastle: Lilian Edwards, Keri Grieman, Emma Irving
  • Alan Turing Institute: Anjali Mazumder
  • Ada Lovelace Institute: Reema Patel, Mavis Machirori, Aiden Peppin, Nardine Alnemr, Kayshani Gibbon, 

Project Publications 


Evidence Submissions

Blogs and Op-eds


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