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bureau Brandeis
26 Mar 2021

Last weekend, two of the last Fieldlab events of the first phase took place in Biddinghuizen. After a business conference, a theatre performance, two football matches, a concert and a dance event indoors, it was now time for a dance event and a pop festival outdoors. The images of dancing visitors without face masks and without keeping a distance of 1.5 metres were somewhat alienating but mainly reassuring.

 What is Fieldlab?

Fieldlab is a research programme in which the government, the business community and the scientific community work together to gather knowledge about the coronavirus, the epidemic and the fight against it by means of practical tests, so that measures to fight the epidemic can be improved. Last December, bureau Brandeis was approached by the Fieldlab Events coalition, an informal collaboration established by the trade organisations Alliantie van Evenementenbouwers and EventPlatform, and the Ministries of Health, Welfare and Sport, Justice and Security, Education, Culture and Science, and Economic Affairs and Climate Change, to look into and advise on privacy law aspects of a series of field tests.

What do the Fieldlabs entail?

For the scientific research into the possibilities of admitting more visitors at events, but also in theatres, cinemas and other venues, Fieldlab prepared and carried out eight practical tests. The researchers created different situations to see how the visitors reacted, for example how people met, how long the meetings lasted and how people reacted to different preventive measures. To ensure safety, participation took place under strict conditions, such as the requirement to show a negative PCR test result. The Breda University of Applied Sciences, Radboudumc, Delft University of Technology, Eindhoven University of Technology, Twente University of Technology and TNO were involved in the research. The expectation is that the research results will also provide points of departure for opening up other parts of society safely. The research can also provide valuable data for possible future epidemics.


The privacy team of bureau Brandeis has advised Fieldlab about the complex division of roles between the various parties involved in the research and how the concept of ‘privacy-by-design’ can be put into practice.

Dimitri Bonthuis, responsible for the Fieldlab Events pilots: “bureau Brandeis helped us to get started with the Fieldlab. They showed us the way along the privacy pitfalls in this complex process. Complex, because there was a modified law, involved several research institutes and various research questions. Moreover, it is a process that is under a magnifying glass, not only in the Netherlands, but worldwide, so everything had to be right straight away. We couldn’t have wished for a better partner.”

Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm and Marieke Berghuis explain: “We felt it was important for the success of these studies that the privacy law aspects were well thought out beforehand, that the GDPR would actually be one of the starting points in the design of the practical tests rather than a stumbling block along the way. Of course, we all hope for good research data so that we can go to a concert or festival again as soon as possible!”

bureau Brandeis carried out the work for Fieldlab partly pro bono, as part of the firm’s social practice and mission to use expertise to improve society.