Attendees and apologies
- Shannon Vallor (SV)
- Alan Howie (AH)
- Stephen Peacock (SP)
- David Alexander (DA)
- Sally Kerr (SK)
- Ruchir Shah (RS)
- Drew Boyle (DB)
- Albert King (AK)
- Gerry Scullion (GS)
- Gillian Docherty (GD)
- Steve McDonald (SMcD)
- Pete Whitehouse (PW)
- John Fotheringham (JF)
- Iain McKay (IM)
- Gareth Williams (GW)
- Scott Heald (SH)
- Scott Nowbaveh (SN)
- Roger Halliday (RH)
- Stephen O’Neill (SON)
- Jonathan Cameron
- Tim Ellis
- Shona Nicol
- Kevin Collins
- Paul Lowe
Items and actions
Welcome and opening remarks
SV welcomed attendees to the tenth meeting of the DDG.
Note of meeting on 21 July 2021
SV directed members to Paper DDG/21/1/2. RS was unable to fully update on progress with his action. SV advised that she would follow up with Nayha Sethi (NS) on her action, as NS was not present. AK advised that his action would be discussed later in the meeting. RS advised that he, AK and AJ had discussed their action, and that he would give further details in AOB.
Scotland’s AI strategy
GD, Chair of the Scottish AI Alliance, gave an update. Delivery of the Strategy is progressing, with all actions in the first 100 days completed and work well underway on those due to be completed within year 1. This includes user requirement workshops to help inform development of the Scottish AI Playbook, a CivTech® Challenge on public trust and agency in AI, alignment with work on Scotland’s Digital Strategy and the Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review, and a number of communication and engagement activities, including internationally. GD observed that the ‘trustworthy, ethical and inclusive’ message of the Strategy’s vision have really captured peoples’ imaginations. RS and several others present agreed with this observation.
The Alliance’s Support Circle is now fully resourced and work progresses to develop the Delivery and Community Circles. The Leadership Circle will next meet on 13 December. Planning progresses for the inaugural Scottish AI Summit, which will be held on 30 March 2022. The event will mark the publication of the first ‘State of AI’ report, first iteration of the Scottish AI Playbook and showcase some of the wide range of innovation in AI in Scotland.
SV advised members that GD will stand down as CEO of The Data Lab in late January 2022, and will be moving to a new role at the University of Strathclyde. Brian Hills, Deputy CEO and Head of Data, will become interim CEO. SV thanked GD for her contributions to the work of the DDG and her successes in driving forward Scotland’s reputation as a place to do data and AI, as well as progressing the delivery of Scotland’s AI Strategy. Several members echoed this, and joined SV in offering GD their best wishes for the future. GD thanked members for their kind comments and advised that she will be retaining a close link to the data and AI space by continuing as Chair of the Scottish AI Alliance.
Data standards and data transformation framework
SK outlined the Data Transformation Framework (DTF), which aims to improve and enable the reuse of Scottish public sector data. Work is progressing well, with data maturity assessments being taken forward as pilot projects with a number of organisations. The initiative has been warmly welcomed and the community of practice is evolving. AH commented that the community is very positive and offers opportunities for collaboration and sharing good practice. DA asked who is eligible to join and how they can do so. SK advised that new members are welcome and that she would share details with the note of the meeting. A CivTech® Challenge on a public sector data catalogue was launched in the summer and work on this is underway.
SP invited members to engage with the ICO for advice and support if they were beginning new projects that involve processing personal data.
Strategic discussion – future of the DDG
SV advised that it was intended to continue the discussion on the future of the DDG opened at the last meeting. She observed that it was timely to reflect on the role and outputs of the DDG, and invited AK to present proposals on how the DDG might go forward.
AK spoke to his slides, which had been shared with members in advance. He outlined the backgrounds of the DDG and COVID-19 Data & Intelligence Network (D&IN) Portfolio Board, their remits, and the overlap between them. He detailed proposals to merge the two groups into a new Scottish Strategic Data Forum (SSDF), the purpose, remit, membership and outputs of this, and its position in the wider governance landscape. He closed by stressing the desire to preserve and build on the strengths of the preceding groups, then invited members’ comments.
RH asked what the D&IN Portfolio Board had made of the proposals. AK advised that they had requested some further details but were very supportive. DA, echoed by RS, asked how the citizens’ voice would be heard in the new SSDF. SP asked how Scotland’s innovation centres would feed into it.
AK acknowledged that striking the right balance between public sector data leaders and other perspectives, as well as public participation, would require consideration. SV noted that today’s discussion was partly catalysed by recognition that the DDG had not harnessed the potential of its membership, the new SSDF would have to do so. SH highlighted that the D&IN has played a very active role in driving work forward, and that it is important the Forum continues to do so.
SV invited thoughts on what else would need to be done to optimise the new SSDF. DA cited the need to be clear and transparent about its work. RS noted the scope for it to take a more co-design approach, going beyond routine consultation and making policy development more agile and open. AH cited the need for it to be better promoted amongst stakeholders, and offered to help with this. SH and DA echoed AH’s observation and also highlighted the need for the Forum to have a full picture of the wider landscape and actively foster collaboration.
IM welcomed the proposal as a step towards streamlining a complex landscape of groups. SK noted her support, with the SSDF likely to be helpful in work on the DTF. SP was assured that there would be a role for regulators and ethics specialists in the new Forum, with this to be articulated in its terms of reference.
SV concluded that it had been a good discussion with useful reflections on what needs done. She thanked AK for presenting the proposal, noted that members appeared happy with the direction of travel and, there being no objections, it was agreed that AK would take it forward.
UK Government data protection consultation
SV advised that the recent consultation on proposals to reform the UK’s data protection regime was felt by many to be too lengthy and discouraging of detailed contributions. In the ensuing discussion it was observed that the proposals point more towards weakening rather than improving on existing provisions, and trimming citizens’ rights. DA offered to share Mydex CIC’s consultation response. The SSDF will need to be aware of developments downstream.
Data and environment
RS advised that he, AK and Anne Jamieson, Head of the D&IN, discussed ideas for potential DDG projects related to COP26. There is a great appetite, including amongst several Non-Governmental Organisations, for data-driven initiatives relating to the environment. On 6 October the Scottish Wildlife Trust, in partnership with NatureScot and the Scottish Government’s Agriculture and Rural Economy Directorate, ran an event exploring data and digital transformation and the environment. RS highlighted that COP26 put a spotlight on the latter and that it would be good to see it in the SSDF’s work. The very rich and useful insights from the event are summarised here. GD advised that The Data Lab are about to launch climate-related data challenges and that she would put relevant colleagues in touch with RS.
SV thanked all for attending what had been an enthused and productive meeting, and welcomed members’ clear endorsement of the proposal to take the group forward.
Details of the new SSDF will be advised appropriately in due course.
- Share details on joining the Data Standards and DTF community of practice with the note of the meeting – SK
- Link in with AK on communications around the SSDF – AH
- Take forward work to develop the SSDF – AK
- Share Mydex CIC’s response to the UK Government Data Protection Consultation with members – DA
- Put colleagues working on climate-related data challenges in touch with RS – GD
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