SPICE Research Featured among the Best of CHI 2019 with an Honorable Mention Award

A paper by SPICE researchers received an Honorable Mention award, featuring it among the Best of CHI at CHI 2019: the premier annual conference in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) being held this year in Glasgow, UK from May 4-9. The paper is one of only 148 papers to be recognized as an exceptional submission from the nearly 3,000 papers submitted to the conference, putting it among the top 5% of all submissions.

The research is the result of a collaboration that cuts across the areas of security and privacy, health informatics, and HCI. The resulting award-winning paper, titled Local Standards for Anonymization Practices in Health, Wellness, Accessibility, and Aging Research at CHI, is co-authored by Ph.D. student Jacob Abbott and Assistant Professor Sameer Patil of SPICE along with three other researchers from the Health Informatics track in the Department of Informatics: Dr. Haley MacLeod, Novia Nurain, and Gustave Ekobe.

The paper tackles anonymizing, reporting, and sharing data of research studies which has gained increasing importance with the growing promotion of open data sharing for advancing scientific discovery. However, sharing human-subjects data can pose privacy risks, especially in sensitive domains such as health. The researchers analyzed the data reporting and sharing practices described in more than 500 health-related papers published at CHI in the past decade. The analysis revealed that data sharing still remains rare and data reporting requires careful consideration of potential risks of anonymized data being easily re-identified, thus exposing sensitive information of study participants.

In light of the findings, the authors propose a number of ethical considerations and mechanisms for researchers to handle data reporting and sharing in ways that can contribute to scientific discovery via data sharing while respecting the privacy of the data subjects.

“This honor from the top venue in HCI is a recognition of the high quality of research at SPICE as well as the collaborative spirit of our researchers who are open to building bridges with other fields to solve important societal challenges connected to privacy and security.” Prof. Patil said. The work was supported by the Department of Informatics with a Cross Track Collaboration Award for research intersecting the Security Informatics and Health Informatics tracks in the department.

First author Jacob Abbott will present the main findings of the paper at CHI 2019 on Monday, May 6th.