Close this search box.
Close this search box.

New Tool Launched to Assess the Public Value of Data Use


A team of researchers from the University of Vienna launched a new open-access tool for assessing the benefits and risks of specific instances of data use.

PLUTO—the Public VaLUe Assessment TOol—had its premiere during the Digital Transformations for Health Lab (DTH-Lab) kick-off event organized at the World Health Summit 2023 (15-17 October, Berlin).

The tool builds on proposals in the Data Solidarity White Paper developed for the Lancet and Financial Times Commission on Governing Health Futures 2030. The DTH-Lab was established to take forward the Commission’s recommendations for a solidarity-based approach to data governance which it argues is necessary to ensure that the value of data is harnessed for health and public value.

As the White Paper’s lead author Professor Barbara Prainsack emphasized during the launch of PLUTO, “The risks and harms of digital data do not lie in the data itself; they come from how it is used.”

Assessing public value requires an assessment of the benefits and risks of a specific kind of data use. The more fair and sustainable the distribution of risks and benefits, the greater the public value.

PLUTO provides a unique framework to understand and categorize the value of data use. The assessment tool encompasses 21 questions organized into four categories:

  • Information about the Data User
  • Benefits of Data Use
  • Risks of Data Use
  • Institutional Safeguards

Based on the responses to these questions, PLUTO classifies data usage into one of four quadrants:

  • Facilitate: high-benefit, low-risk data uses
  • Prohibit: low-benefit, high-risk data uses
  • Reduce Risk: high-benefit, high-risk data uses
  • Share Profits: Envisions low-benefit, low-risk data uses

Practical applications of PLUTO include supporting organizations in making ethical and responsible decisions regarding data use. The creators anticipate that PLUTO will spark essential dialogues and actions around ethical and responsible data practices, promoting a more transparent, equitable, and responsible digital future.

On 18 October, a first workshop was held in Berlin for participants to test the tool and explore how the public value of data can be conceptualized and measured. Further workshops will be held around the world to allow different stakeholder groups to use the tool and adapt it for different sectors.

For more information, please visit PLUTO’s website:

Watch the presentation of PLUTO at the World Health Summit

Author picture