Policy Connect submit response to National Data Strategy

Policy Connect and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Data Analytics are delighted to have submitted a formal response to the Government’s consultation on the proposed National Data Strategy. The response has been developed following a significant body of events and research projects conducted by the APGDA over the past eighteen months. It also includes findings reached by other Policy Connect bodies including the APPG for Assistive Technology and Policy Connect’s Higher Education Commission.

It is clear that data-driven technologies are revolutionising the way important decisions are made every day and the way in which people are able to lead their lives. The submission notes Policy Connect’s overall support of the National Data Strategy, particularly with regard to the clear articulation of the importance of data and digital technologies across the whole of society. It also supports the further development of the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation and being placed on statutory footing. 

Policy Connect does, however, have three areas where the National Data Strategy should be developed further. 

First, more emphasis needs to be placed on the ethics and standards which data collection and use should meet. The APGDA’s 2019 report, Trust, Transparency and Tech set out ways in which this could be achieved. 

Second, and connected with the issue of public trust, the Strategy needs to make clear the critical role of local and regional authorities. The APPG for Data Analytics forthcoming inquiry into place-based ethical technologies has identified that data ethics engagement work at the regional and local level is much more effective at engagement meaningfully with the public and businesses than national efforts. 

Finally, Policy Connect views that the Strategy should be stronger on fairness and opportunity, by establishing “Equality” as a pillar in its own right in the up-front diagram. This would help ensure that fairness and opportunity are embedded across the strategy as a whole, and that that no individuals and user groups are left behind as the Strategy is developed and implemented. 

The APGDA and Policy Connect, however, are supportive of the wider ambitions of the Strategy. The Group will continue to engage with Government to develop improved public policy into data and digital technologies in 2021.