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Scotland, United Kingdom

Improve Data Use (SCO0008)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Scotland Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Chief Statistician, Scottish Government Digital Health and Care, Scottish Government COSLA

Support Institution(s): State actors involved Scottish Government National Records of Scotland NHS ISD other public sector data producers The Data Lab Other partners could be included as this work evolves CSOs, private sector, multilaterals, working groups Active partners could include: Open Government Network Involve Other partners to be included as this work evolves

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Health, Open Data, Public Service Delivery, Subnational

IRM Review

IRM Report: Scotland Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Civic Participation , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

Commitment 3: Improvements to the way information and data are used
December 2018 – 2020 Lead implementing agency/actor Chief Statistician, Scottish Government Digital Health and Care, Scottish Government COSLA Commitment description What is the public problem that the commitment will address? The public sector holds much information on Scotland, its institutions and communities. The website statistics.gov.scot was launched in 2016 to provide free and open access to Scotland’s official statistics data, and currently holds over 200 datasets covering a wide range of topics and organisations. However, much more data remains to be made easily and consistently accessible. What is the commitment? We will make more of our rich data public sector data open for social and economic good, and to help people understand how our country is changing. The Scottish Government will continue to work in partnership across the public sector to expand the range of data hosted on statistics.gov.scot. By 2020, it will include all data underpinning our National Performance Framework and be the ’open as standard’ mechanism for publishing all of Scotland’s official statistics data, where appropriate. We will develop the platform further to host more types of data, including public sector management information such as financial data. Building upon and beyond statistics.gov.scot, we will develop innovative ways to make Scotland’s data relevant and accessible to a wide range of users, including infographics and interactive apps. To better understand Scotland’s communities, we will increase the number of datasets that provide information at a local level. We will promote the use of this information in local area profiles to aid local decision-making. We will ensure open data is accompanied by the appropriate metadata and explanations to help people understand and reuse it. We recognise that giving greater access to information alone is not sufficient. The ability to find and filter databases and datasets, identify and isolate noteworthy information from raw data, and turn
this into insights to inform decision making: all remain out of reach for most citizens. Thus, data literacy must be developed in order to foster citizen empowerment through the use of data. We will work with representatives from civil society and other government agencies, to consider how we can develop wider data literacy in society. This will include workshops to discuss the idea of developing a programme of data champions or the appointment of a Scottish Data Ombudsman. Access to information – Public Health and Care Scotland’s Digital Health & Care Strategy, published in April 2018, has a vision of the people of Scotland having access to their information to help maintain and improve their health and wellbeing, and that frontline staff and carers can also access the information they need to deliver high quality care and support. To enable this, the Scottish Government and COSLA have committed in the Strategy to involve the public in developing a consistent national approach to the use of health and care information, including clear and appropriate choices for individuals about how their information will be used and how and when it will be shared. The strategy makes it clear that people expect their information to be available to them. The Strategy further recognises the need to build and maintain trust with greater transparency over how and why such information is used for wider public or societal benefit. The technical delivery of this ambition is being taken forward through the development of a national digital health & care platform, which is in part designed to ‘deliver the digital capability for citizens to access and update information about their health & wellbeing, including their records and from personal monitoring, and to interact with services.’ Participative engagement (involving all potential users) is a key requirement, with the Scottish Approach to Service Design being embedded to ensure true codesign of the platform. Alongside that, there is a need to effectively engage with the public to build the necessary trust and to explore the opportunities for greater citizen-led data sharing. To this end, we are launching two innovation challenge with NESTA in 2018/19 around building trust, including understanding what gaining trust means and generating an understanding of the value of sharing data, and on making (any) data useful to citizens for their health and wellbeing.
How will the commitment contribute to solving the public problem? The actions described in this commitment will: • increase the amount of Scotland’s official statistics published as open data • increase the amount of data published at a geographic level that describes communities • make data more easily findable, understandable, and reusable • communicate the insights from this data to a non-technical audience • plan potential future work on data literacy Why is this commitment relevant to Open Government Partnership values? This commitment deals primarily with improving public access to information: • by increasing the amount of data in the public domain, particularly geographically disaggregated data • by improving the accessibility of data that is already in the public domain • by making it easier for anyone to combine and reuse statistical information The specific details of the commitment largely focus on the release of data. However, we recognise that a lack of data literacy skills is often a barrier to accessing insights contained in datasets. To mitigate this, and thus broaden access to information, we will use publicly available data to power apps, infographics, and area profiles, which can be accessed by a wider audience. Additional information The Scottish Government’s Digital Strategy describes how we will support change and innovation through the effective use of data. Milestone Activity with a verifiable deliverable Start Date End Date Publish all datasets underpinning the National Performance Framework on statistics.gov.scot December 2018 December 2019 Assess the suitability of all official statistics in the Scottish Government’s publication schedule for publication on statistics.gov.scot December 2018 December 2019
Increase the number of datasets available for small areas (such as data zone and intermediate zone levels) December 2018 August 2020 Develop statistics.gov.scot as a tool for publishing public sector management information December 2018 August 2019 Use open data to create publicly available infographics and interactive apps. December 2018 August 2020 Use small area data to produce publicly available local area profiles December 2018 August 2020 Review and improve metadata associated with all open datasets December 2018 December 2019 Workshops to consider developing wider data literacy in society December 2018 December 2019 In line with the Digital Health and Care Strategy, we will develop an approach with the people of Scotland to ensure their health and care information is accessed and shared in an open and transparent manner in the pursuit of excellent care at the point of contact, further building trust in our health and care services Winter 2018 2020
Contact information Name of responsible person from implementing agency Doreen Grove Title, Department Head of Open Government, Ingage, Scottish Government Email and Phone Doreen.grove@gov.scot 07767343230 Lead: Roger Halliday - Chief Statistician Roger.Halliday@gov.scot Other Actors Involved State actors involved • Scottish Government • National Records of Scotland • NHS ISD other public sector data producers • The Data Lab Other partners could be included as this work evolves CSOs, private sector, multilaterals, working groups • Active partners could include: • Open Government Network • Involve • Other partners to be included as this work evolves

IRM Midterm Status Summary

3 Improving how information and data is shared

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

“We will make more of our rich data public sector data open for social and economic good, and to help people understand how our country is changing.

The Scottish Government will continue to work in partnership across the public sector to expand the range of data hosted on statistics.gov.scot. By 2020, it will include all data underpinning our National Performance Framework and be the ’open as standard’ mechanism for publishing all of Scotland’s official statistics data, where appropriate. We will develop the platform further to host more types of data, including public sector management information such as financial data.

Building upon and beyond statistics.gov.scot, we will develop innovative ways to make Scotland’s data relevant and accessible to a wide range of users, including infographics and interactive apps. To better understand Scotland’s communities, we will increase the number of datasets that provide information at a local level. We will promote the use of this information in local area profiles to aid local decision-making. We will ensure open data is accompanied by the appropriate metadata and explanations to help people understand and reuse it.

[…] We will work with representatives from civil society and other government agencies, to consider how we can develop wider data literacy in society. This will include workshops to discuss the idea of developing a programme of data champions or the appointment of a Scottish Data Ombudsman.

[…] (T)he Scottish Government and COSLA have committed in the Digital Health & Care Strategy to involve the public in developing a consistent national approach to the use of health and care information, including clear and appropriate choices for individuals about how their information will be used and how and when it will be shared. […]  The technical delivery of this ambition is being taken forward through the development of a national digital health & care platform, which is in part designed to ‘deliver the digital capability for citizens to access and update information about their health & wellbeing, including their records and from personal monitoring, and to interact with services.”

Activities

  1. Publish all datasets underpinning the National Performance Framework on statistics.gov.scot
  2. Assess the suitability of all official statistics in the Scottish Government’s publication schedule for publication on statistics.gov.scot
  3. Increase the number of datasets available for small areas (such as data zone and intermediate zone levels)
  4. Develop statistics.gov.scot as a tool for publishing public sector management information
  5. Use open data to create publicly available infographics and interactive apps.
  6. Use small area data to produce publicly available local area profiles.
  7. Review and improve metadata associated with all open datasets
  8. [Hold] workshops to consider developing wider data literacy in society
  9. In line with the Digital Health and Care Strategy, we will develop an approach with the people of Scotland to ensure their health and care information is accessed and shared in an open and transparent manner in the pursuit of excellent care at the point of contact, further building trust in our health and care services.

Start Date: December 2018

End Date: December 2020

Editorial Note: The text of the commitment has in some cases been abridged for the sake of brevity. For the full text of this commitment, see: “Scotland’s Open Government Action Plan for 2018-20: Commitments in detail”, pp 13-15.

Context and Objectives

The Scottish Government´s data portal (statistics.gov.scot), launched in 2016, provides free and open access to more than 200 official datasets covering a wide range of topics and organisations. However, much more data remains to be made easily and consistently accessible (e.g. community-level data and local area profiles). Meanwhile, the ability to find and filter databases and datasets, identify and isolate noteworthy information from raw data, and turn this into insights to inform decision-making, remains difficult for most citizens, often because data is not accompanied by appropriate metadata and explanations. [19]

In order to fill this gap, this commitment aims to:

  • increase the amount of Scotland’s official statistics published as open data
  • increase the amount of data published at a geographic level that describes communities
  • make data more easily findable, understandable, and reusable
  • communicate the insights from this data to a non-technical audience
  • plan potential future work on data literacy.

While the commitment largely focuses on the release of data, it also includes plans to develop apps, infographics, and area profiles, which can be accessed by a wider audience to better understand the insights contained in datasets. This, according to Martin Macfie from the Scottish Government´s Digital Directorate, could help improve both transparency and trust in government. [20]

In addition, the commitment includes a more specific plan to develop a national digital health and care platform to enable citizens to access their own health and care information and to enable carers to access the information they need to deliver high quality care and support. According to Doreen Grove, the inclusion of the work on health and social care data was driven by the strong belief among a number of stakeholders that the commitment should include a focus on a concrete policy area close to the everyday experiences of citizens. [21] The government has also committed to delivering the proposed platform in its Digital Strategy. [22]

This commitment is relevant to the OGP value of access to information by increasing the amount of data, including local area data, that government makes available to the public. It is also relevant to the value of technology and innovation for transparency and accountability insofar as it uses technological solutions to present data in ways which make it easier for citizens to understand and interpret. The commitment also has some relevance to the OGP value of civic participation as it aims to involve citizens through workshops to develop wider data literacy to enable them to make use of the published data.

Some parts of this commitment are specific enough to be verifiable to the extent that they refer to concrete areas of work with specific outputs (e.g. publishing all datasets underpinning the National Performance Framework (NPF),[1] developing a national digital health and care platform). However, for other areas, the wording of the activities is more vague (e.g. assess the suitability of publishing all official statistics, developing statistics.gov.scot as a tool for publishing public sector management information, considering developing wider data literacy). As explained by Doreen Grove, it is not possible to know what the exact output will be for some of these activities until the government has held further discussions with stakeholders and citizens. [23] To this extent, some of the activities can be considered a work-in-progress.

Partly for this reason, the IRM researcher considers the potential impact of this commitment to be minor. In some cases, there is a clear purpose for publishing more data. For example, publishing more granular and place-based data underpinning the NPF (including data on Scotland´s 81 national indicators [24] and data related to specific policy areas and equality characteristics [25]) should help to paint a clearer picture around public sector performance at the local level. However, in other cases, the purpose is less clear, which limits the potential impact of the commitment. For example, the practical purpose of publishing all official statistics and public sector management information is not established, hence the commitment is only to “assess the suitability” of doing so. Crucially, plans to work on data literacy are not well developed as the plan only commits the government to “consider developing wider data literacy”, although, according to Madeleine Fleming from the Open Government team, the government is currently working with stakeholders in community groups and elsewhere to better understand the barriers to data literacy [26].

Next steps

The IRM researcher considers this commitment could be carried forward to a future action plan but recommends a number of improvements to strengthen its potential impact. The OGP Steering Group could consider including a stronger focus on working with civil servants, civil society and groups of citizens to make use of the data, thus responding to the 2017 IRM Report’s recommendation for future action plans to “support the capacity of civil servants to produce information as intended and the capacity of citizens to use the information in meaningful ways”. While discussions with the Scottish Government´s Digital team indicated that there is work ongoing to build technical skills among groups of government, local government and health care professionals in order to facilitate the fulfilment of data commitments such as building apps and profiles from Scotland’s open data platform, this upskilling work is not explicitly mentioned in the plan [27]. More specifically;

  • As noted by Elric Honoré, the civil society chair of the OGP Steering Group, one of the missing links in the open data field in Scotland is the “communicators” and “foot soldiers” who operate at the local level and are able to translate and mediate between government and local communities. [28] A future commitment on open data should seek to actively support this kind of communication. This might include, for example, a commitment to encourage citizen journalism, by developing a strategy for targeted training to use information and data actively by mapping services and identifying the skills and resources available to train and mentor citizen journalists. This was identified as a top priority by participants during the action plan prioritisation event. [29]
  • On the government side, participants at the consultation events also suggested that the government consider setting up an “insights team” to analyse the way different audiences consume information to ensure that what is put out in the public domain is done so in a variety of appropriate formats. [30]
[19] Scotland's Open Government Action Plan 2018-2020: detailed commitments, https://www.gov.scot/publications/scotlands-open-government-action-plan-2018-20-detailed-commitments/
[20] Interview with Nicola McDonagh, Martin Macfie, Simon Wakefield, Emma Harvey and Doreen Grove, Scottish Government, 14 May 2019.
[21] Interview with Doreen Grove and Niamh Webster, Open Government Team, 17 May 2019.
[23] Interview with Doreen Grove and Niamh Webster, Open Government Team, 17 May 2019.
[25] Scottish Government, Equality evidence finder, https://scotland.shinyapps.io/sg-equality-evidence-finder/
[26] Email communication with Madeleine Fleming, Open Government team, 14 October 2019.
[27] Interview with Doreen Grove and Niamh Webster, Open Government Team, 17 May 2019.
[28] Interview with Elric Honoré, civil society chair of the OGP Steering Group, 15 May 2019.
[30] Ibid.

Commitments

  1. Financial and Performance Transparency

    SCO0006, 2018, Fiscal Transparency

  2. Open Policy Making and Participation in Service Delivery

    SCO0007, 2018, Capacity Building

  3. Improve Data Use

    SCO0008, 2018, Capacity Building

  4. Public Service Accountability

    SCO0009, 2018, Legislation & Regulation

  5. Transparency and Participation

    SCO0010, 2018, Citizenship and Immigration

  6. Financial Transparency

    SCO0001, 2017, E-Government

  7. Measuring Scotland’S Progress

    SCO0002, 2017, Capacity Building

  8. Deliver a Fairer Scotland

    SCO0003, 2017, Marginalized Communities

  9. Participatory Budgeting (Also Known as Community Choices in Scotland)

    SCO0004, 2017, Capacity Building

  10. Increasing Participation

    SCO0005, 2017, Capacity Building