Unlocking the Value of Data in Scotland - Public Workshops

We are working with the public through a set of workshops to guide ethical use of public sector data by the private sector to benefit the public.

About the workshops

We were appointed by the Scottish Government to deliver two public workshops (one in Inverness and one online) to aid the development of guiding principles and a policy framework with the aim of helping to guide ethical use of public sector data by the private sector to benefit the public. Here are the draft guiding principles so far. This work is its early stages and this is the start of gathering feedback, so your contributions will add to a growing body of public input in this area.

You do not need to know anything about data as the workshop will cover data scenarios - real-life examples of how data is being used in Scotland. You will work through opportunities and challenges for public sector personal data use and decide upon with the rest of the group the guiding principles for how you think public sector personal data, and decisions around its use, should be made in the future. 

What do you mean by data?

Data is a collection of information or statistics that can be combined together to create meaning. For example, collecting personal data on a mass scale (i.e. population of Scotland) to understand how disease is transmitted and prevent spread.

For this project we are particularly interested in looking at the private sectors’ use of public sector data for public benefit and what the challenges and opportunities are for this. There are lots of examples in different contexts of this, but a recent example that might be familiar is the private sector could be vaccine companies using public data to develop vaccines in a pandemic crisis.

Workshop options

  • Thursday 20st October 09.30am – 1.30pm online through Zoom
  • Friday 4th November 09.30am – 1.30pm Inverness

The workshop you choose will be held over a half day and you will work with others as part of a small group (7-10 people in breakouts) to discuss the challenges and opportunities for data use scenarios in Scotland and decide on the best principles for public engagement Scotland should be working towards. The ideas you suggest at the workshop will inform the guiding principles and a policy statement. The aim is that after further engagement these  will guide decision making in public sector personal data use.

About the Unlocking the Value of Data Programme 

The ‘Unlocking the Value of Data Programme’ aims to unlock the value of Scotland’s public sector personal data, when used with or by the private sector, for public benefit. 

The Scottish public sector has rich data sets that, if made available in trustworthy, ethical ways, can create opportunities for the private sector to use this data innovatively to realise social, environmental and economic value. 

Despite the fact that rigorous information governance processes are in place to ensure the legal processing of data, data controllers have cited significant anxiety regarding the release of public sector personal data for use with or by the private sector. 

We are developing a policy statement and guiding principles to aid ethical lawful and confident decision-making by public sector data controllers for this type of data use. Securing the support and participation of the public, ensuring ethical issues are foregrounded, and that privacy is appropriately protected, are prerequisites for this work. The use of Scotland’s public sector personal data must be trustworthy as well as legally compliant.  

The Programme, launched in March 2022, is progressing under the direction of a multi-disciplinary Independent Expert Group, chaired by Professor Angela Daly, of Dundee University.

Gift of thanks

To say thanks for giving up your time and to cover any travel or child-caring costs, we will be providing thank you honorariums. Participants who attend will receive a £50 thank you gift via honorarium voucher of your choice or credit into your bank account.

Sign up form

Selection of participants

Spaces are allocated on a first-come basis, however we can only accommodate up to 15-20 people per workshop (40 people total).This means if we receive more than the number required, we will need to do a selection process to ensure that there is a broadly representative sample of demographics including age, gender, local authority area, understanding of data. Due to the potential for bias during public sector personal data use, we are particularly interested in hearing from groups who have traditionally been underrepresented in Scottish society. This means you may not be selected if too many people sign-up under the same demographic profile, however we will contact you about future ways to engage if you are happy for us to do so.

More information

Data and data use is a complex subject and we want all of you to feel confident to speak openly, without any fear. If you are selected, we will be sending you out an information pack and ensuring you feel safe and comfortable to attend in advance of the workshop. The workshop delivery team will be in contact with you to make sure you have everything that you need, to feel valued and to take part safely.

The following organisations are part of this process:

  • The Democratic Society: The Democratic Society (Demsoc) works for more and better democracy, where people and institutions have the desire, opportunity and confidence to participate together. We work to create opportunities for people to become involved in the decisions that affect their lives and for them to have the skills to do this effectively. We support governments, parliaments and any organisation that wants to involve citizens in decision making to be transparent, open and welcoming of participation. We actively support spaces, places and processes to make this happen.
  • Independent Expert Group: The group overseeing the ‘Unlocking the Value of Data Programme’, is chaired by Professor Angela Daly and comprised of experts from different sectors, backgrounds and practices. The aim of the group is to advise the Scottish Government on how personal dataset-holders in the Scottish public sector can make decisions about how these datasets might be used by the private sector. The group met for the fifth time on 31 August 2022, as part of a series of monthly meetings.  Minutes from their meetings are published on the Scottish Government website. Their work is supported by a Practitioner Forum, comprising a range of expertise.
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