The first projects to be approved for a new service by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have been announced.

The UK’s independent regulator for data protection and information rights law has introduced the 'Sandbox' service.

The service supports organisations that are developing products and services which use personal data for public benefit in innovative ways.

From 64 applications received by the ICO, ten have been selected and include Heathrow Airport’s programme to streamline the passenger journey through biometrics, as well as NHS Digital’s work on sharing of healthcare data for medical research and clinical trials.

Other products and services to be scrutinised for compliance with data protection law will include innovations in housing, road traffic management, student welfare and tackling bias in artificial intelligence.

Elizabeth Denham, information commissioner, said: “The ICO supports innovation in technology and exciting new uses of data, while ensuring that people’s privacy and legal rights are protected.

“We have always said that privacy and innovation are not mutually exclusive and there doesn’t need to be an either-or choice between the two.

“The sandbox will help companies and public bodies deliver new products and services of real benefit to the public, with assurance that they have tackled built-in data protection at the outset.”

Sandbox participant will be able to draw on the ICO’s expertise and advice on data protection by design, mitigating any risks as they test their innovations, while ensuring that appropriate protections and safeguards are in place.

The programme is expected to complete by September 2020.