Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Data Innovation Program?

The Data Innovation Program is a data integration and analytics program for government. While every B.C. ministry collects and manages its own data, the Data Innovation Program can securely link and de-identify data from multiple ministries, giving government researchers a better understanding of B.C.’s more complex issues. The program supports population-level analysis, not individual or case-level analysis.

2. What is de-identified data?

De-identified data has been stripped of any information that could potentially identify individuals including names, driver’s licence numbers and personal health numbers.

De-identified data is a powerful resource for research projects: it can lead to analytical insights while maintaining individual privacy and confidentiality.

3. Who can access the data?

Only authorized people can access data through the Data Innovation Program. Authorized people are approved, trained government analysts and government-contracted researchers who

  • Take an oath of secrecy under the Statistics Act
  • Take privacy training and must pass an exam
  • Sign user agreements stipulating terms and conditions of their data access and use

4. Can citizens or the private sector access data through the Data Innovation Program?

No. Citizens and businesses can see which data sets are available through the Data Innovation Program, but the data is only available to approved research projects. Citizens and businesses can continue to access other data sets from government through the BC Data Catalogue, which contains over 1,500 data sets that are free to use or re-purpose under B.C.’s Open Government Licence.

5. What data is the program using?

The Data Innovation Program uses data contributed by B.C. ministries or agencies. This includes: income and work data; social development data; children and families data; health data; justice data; and education data. You can see which specific data sets are being used for each project in the Data Innovation Program on the About the Projects page.

6. How is individual privacy being protected?

The Data Innovation Program only uses de-identified data, or data stripped of any information that could potentially identify individuals. Even still, data is treated as confidential, sensitive and subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Government analysts never see personally identifiable information and the data can only be accessed in a secure setting (known as a secure research environment) under government’s care and control. Also, data is only available for approved government projects that meet strict conditions to protect individual privacy. You can read more about de-identification in the privacy and security framework.

The Data Innovation Program was developed in partnership with privacy experts and has been reviewed by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. The program meets B.C.’s strict privacy laws and embodies world-leading best practices for data privacy and security.

Read more about Privacy, Security and the Five Safes model.

7. What kind of projects does the Data Innovation Program support?

The Data Innovation Program supports approved government projects. You can see a summary of current projects on our About the Projects page.

To be approved, a project must present a clear benefit to the public and have a valid statistical purpose, sound study design and methodology. You can read more about the project approval process in the privacy and security framework

8. Who runs the Data Innovation Program?

The Ministry of Citizens’ Services runs the Data Innovation Program under the guidance of a 13-member board of deputy ministers from across the B.C. government.