Using data effectively

Data can be facts and statistics or lists of information collected together for reference or analysis.

We are making sure that Scotland is well positioned to support change and innovation through the effective use of data.

In our national digital strategy, Realising Scotland's full potential in a digital world (March 2017), one of our aims is to engage with the public to build an understanding of:

  • how their data is being used for the public benefit
  • the arrangements in place to guarantee the security of their data

We want to make non-personal data about people and businesses in Scotland easier to access and use.

We will achieve this by publishing the data behind all official statistics on

We also set out guidance and codes of practice for public services on how to manage data in line with privacy legislation and to protect the public.

Open data strategy

Better data sharing can generate new insights, stimulate new ideas and deliver potential savings to the public sector. The Policy Exchange estimated that making public sector data more open could save the UK more than £16 billion.

Our Open Data Strategy sets out our ambition for making data held by the public sector more available for others to use and reuse.

Investing in research and innovation

Our open data platform will help Scotland become recognised as an attractive place to use data for research and innovation.

We are delivering a series of projects and a skills programme with Datalab, which will develop the existing workforce's data analytics skills and increase the number of new data scientists.

Datalab were set up with a £11.3 million grant from the Scottish Funding Council.

Data management

The Scotland's Digital Future: Delivery of Public Services strategy sets a number of objectives for the effective use and management of public sector data, to improve service delivery and promote economic growth. A Data Management Board was established to make sure a consistent approach is taken across Scotland.

The Data Management Board provides strategic direction and overview across the various data work streams.

Geographic Information Service

Geographic, or spatial information is any physical, map-based, address and text-based data that can be used to describe and characterise places in Scotland, and the people who live there.

The Geographic Information service takes forward the actions of the Geographic Information Strategy.

It's working to develop a more systematic and effective approach to using geographic information in the development and delivery of policy and services to the benefit of the people of Scotland.

The Spatial Information Board makes sure we make the most of Scotland's spatial data, helps to support innovative and effective public services and promotes economic growth.

Identity management and privacy

Our identity management and privacy principles aim to raise confidence in personal data management. These principles should be adopted by all public service organisations delivering public services.

They include:

  • proving identity or entitlement
  • governance and accountability
  • risk management
  • data and data sharing
  • data use for research and statistics
  • education and engagement

The Identity Management and Privacy Principles were last updated in 2014 and reflect data protection legislation current at that time. New data protection legislation came into force in the UK in 2018.

The principles-based approach to privacy and identify management will continue under the new law, however terminology and guidance within the principles will be updated. These changes will reflect the need for appropriate bases for processing and increased awareness of fair processing information. For information on the forthcoming changes to UK data protection law, please visit the ICO website.

Data sharing code of practice (statutory)

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) data sharing code of practice is a statutory code (required by law) which explains how the Data Protection Act 1998 applies to the sharing of personal data. It provides practical advice to all organisations, whether public, private or third sector, that share personal data and covers systematic data sharing arrangements as well as ad hoc or one off requests to share personal data.

The ICO Data Sharing code of practice is a statutory code of practice and shall remain so under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The Code will be updated where necessary once the data protection law in the UK is settled via a new Data Protection Act.

Back to top