Data trusts could curb the cost of hosting the Olympics

Out-Law News | 22 Jul 2021 | 8:58 am | 1 min. read

The cost of hosting major events like the Olympic Games could be reduced if organisers embrace new ways of working with data, legal experts have said.

Andrew McMillan and Sue Chadwick of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, were commenting on the eve of the delayed Tokyo Olympics and in the aftermath of the International Olympic Committee announcing that the city of Brisbane, Australia, would host the 2032 Olympic Games.

“Major sporting events like this are often looked at as an economic burden with an expensive and underused legacy, but they also offer benefits,” said McMillan. “Using a mechanism such as a data trust allows a number of bodies to combine their data and authorises the use of the pooled resource for a range of specified purposes, all managed by a data steward appointed through the trust. Energy data can reduce costs through more efficient cooling and heating, transport data can contribute to intelligent demand management and maximise parking revenues, and data from food, beverage, shopping and leisure uses can increase advertising revenues, for example. A trust is a proven way to pull data sources together to make the most of any commercial opportunities as well as ensuring that the data is both good quality and properly managed.”

Chadwick said there are also wider benefits for Olympic hosts to gain from responsible data sharing. 

She said: “At the event itself, data can be used to improve security at and around the ground and anticipate and manage pedestrian flows – this in turn lessens the stress on the immediate vicinity and allows better decision making for things like public transport and other infrastructure provision. After the event, there are rich sources of historical data available about how and why people use urban spaces, that can be shared with the next host country as a valuable legacy of data for the public good.”