We are testing a new beta website for gov.scot go to new site

Content notice

This content is not being updated. Get the latest information on Scottish Government action to help make Scotland a digital nation from https://beta.gov.scot.

Data Management Board – A Data Vision for Scotland

Downloadable document:

Title:Data Management Board – A Data Vision for Scotland
Description:Data Management Board – A Data Vision for Scotland
File:Data Management Board – A Data Vision for Scotland [PDF, 318.1 kb: 17 Apr 2014]
Open | Open in new window
 Viewer Help

Data Management Board – A Data Vision for Scotland



Our Objective

Across Scotland, business, government, universities, communities and individuals now produce vast volumes of complex information daily.  Good use of data can provide structure to decision making, reduce waste, ensure open and fair markets, support precision where required and save lives, money and time.  But the combination of the speed with which data are produced, and its complexity, means that powerful information tools are needed to help understanding.

Our objective is to champion, and unleash across Scotland, trustworthy uses of data for public benefit.  In doing so we wish all involved to maintain and enhance Scotland’s reputation for the safe, secure and transparent use of data; rapidly translating our strengths into benefits for citizens, businesses and communities, locally and globally.

The Scottish Government has therefore established a Data Management Board, which will engage widely with the citizens of Scotland to set out a clear ambition, provide leadership and develop a coherent data vision for Scotland in a global context.

Why Now?

There is a global data revolution taking place.  Every day the amount and range of data being produced increases and new tools and techniques are being developed to help us all access and analyse data.  More importantly, we are recognising the value of data to society and the opportunities that come from using it well.

Scotland is fortunate to have some of the best data in the world.  Some data are about people - their characteristics, behaviours and requirements; other data are non-personal - such as data about climate or pollution.  We also have outstanding world leading expertise, particularly in our universities, in ethical, legal and social disciplines, as well as resources and skills in data infrastructure, data management, analysis and informatics. Few other countries have the opportunity to link high quality, consistent data that has national coverage so as to deliver real-time analysis for public service improvement, economic growth and research. Scotland is therefore well placed to be part of this data revolution, using data to deliver better outcomes for the people of Scotland whilst safeguarding the privacy of individuals.

We already make use of data every day but it is not always used as effectively as it should be.  We have legislative frameworks, controls and guidance which seek to ensure that, at all times, we treat personal data responsibly.  However, too many organisations (and people who control data) find caution easier than recognising the benefits which can be achieved by using data in a responsible, safe fashion.  There is an opportunity to provide guidance and leadership that will transform current practices so that effective use of data is engrained in all of our public services.

Driving Change: a Data Vision

The Data Management Board proposes a Data Vision for Scotland in 2020 where:

Data are used to support the delivery of outstanding public services.

Citizens feel confident that personal data are being shared responsibly to create better and more responsive services which meet their individual needs.

Citizens readily know how to and can access personal information held about them, allowing them to confirm accuracy and to choose if they wish to create their own personal data store.

All data are leveraged to deliver best possible service delivery.

When we use personal data in research the safeguards to protect privacy operate effectively and efficiently.

Non-personal data held by the public sector is seen as a societal good (or resource) which is readily available and accessible for re-use, in a format which supports this.

Our capability is enhanced to address data challenges and opportunities so that data can inform public service design and support economic growth.

Collaboration between business, research and the public sector will ensure that Scotland achieves this, and is internationally competitive.

The public, private and third sectors and civil society are continuously engaged in debate to ensure the continued effective use of data.

We set out below ten guiding principles that will support the translation of this vision into a plan that is recognisable outside government, actionable, and auditable.  These build upon the five core themes set out in the recently published Shakespeare Review: An Independent Review of Public Sector Information (May 2013) but have application beyond Open Data. We are committed to active public engagement every step of the way to guide us in the trustworthy use of data.

Leadership: A defined leadership team will be responsible for driving the implementation of the Data Vision throughout the public sector.  Currently there are many committees, boards, overseers and champions of data; but no easily understood, easily accessed, influential mechanism for making things happen. The Data Management Board will be a visible body with a single public interface to drive increased access to public sector information.

Ownership: Organisations have a collective responsibility to be good custodians of data, and should make it easy for people to access and share information (including personal data about them), and understand who owns the data and how data are being used.

Quality: Promote continuous improvement in the accuracy and completeness of data so that we can all be confident in using the data to support decision making, service delivery and research.

Value: Obtain value from existing data and help the public sector in Scotland design and deliver outstanding services that meet the needs of citizens and businesses.  Through efficiencies and prioritisation reduce the administrative burden involved in the collection of data and increase the impact and benefits of responsible data use.

Velocity: Promote the use of real time data to enable speedier responses from those accessing and using data.  This will ensure that our public services are more responsive, and support their continuous improvement. 

Sharing: Enable more effective sharing of data (including personal data) between professionals - eg for service provision – so they can discuss with each other and the individual the best options available.  This includes developing systems that mean people would only have to provide information about themselves once, rather than many times.

Availability: Make public service data (historic and current) available and readily discoverable, in formats which are easily re-used (e.g. machine readable).  This will allow and encourage others to make re-use of the data to develop new products and services.  In turn, this will create wealth and jobs, as well as better services for people in Scotland

Innovation: Support effective and timely research that brings different data sets together easily and with minimal bureaucracy.  This will enable more responsive service development, contribute to Scotland’s reputation for research and development, attract business and make Scotland the “come to place” for innovation in data science and analysis.

Skills: Build the people of Scotland’s skills in computer, information and data science, and information governance by promoting partnership and collaboration.  This is essential to increase knowledge generation and provide environments which facilitate and encourage tacit knowledge to be spread through face-to-face contact across the public, academic and commercial sectors.

Trust: Protect the privacy of individuals by fully deploying available data security technology, whilst strengthening governance and drawing attention to penalties for infractions.  We will develop physical and digital locations that allow work on data without allowing it to be taken from a secure space.  This will increase protections for citizens while also increasing the availability of data to external users.

Next Steps

The headline actions that the Board will oversee the delivery of, and which will measure our success are:

We will finalise and implement our action plan which will include:

Open data: We agree and publish in 2014 an Open Data Strategy that specifies principles and best practice in making data open across the breadth of public services in Scotland, and a baseline for measuring progress and the impact of making more data available for re-use.

Data analysis and big data: The work of the range of data innovation and analysis initiatives is aligned and co-ordinated to maximise Scotland’s impact. A National

Data Summit in 2014 will support this.

Data sharing: We build understanding of frameworks for data sharing so that public sector staff feel confident in their ability to take decisions on data sharing.

Data Linkage: The public sector fully adopts the 2012 “Joined-up Data for better decisions: Guiding Principles for Data Linkage” and links more data for statistical research so that we have a better understanding of how to achieve positive outcomes for people in Scotland.

Strategies and plans for skills, capabilities and resource development led by the public sector will take account of the need to make effective use of data.

We undertake a coordinated programme of engagement activities that is dynamic, responsive and inclusive and which promotes public engagement on management of data more generally.

And by taking these steps we maintain public confidence in and increase public awareness of how we use and manage data.