Data Delivery Group meeting: July 2021

Minutes for the Data Delivery Group meeting on 21 July 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Shannon Vallor (SV)
  • David Alexander (DA)
  • Jeremy Darot (JD)
  • Gillian Docherty (GD)
  • John Fotheringham (JF)
  • Sam Hildersley (SH)
  • Anne Jamieson (AJ)
  • Albert King (AK)
  • Kenneth Macdonald (KM)
  • Iain McKay (IM)
  • Christopher Muir (CM)
  • Rod Murray-Smith (RMS)
  • Shona Nicol (SNi) 
  • Scott Nowbaveh (SNo)
  • Nayha Sethi (NS)
  • Ruchir Shah (RS) 
  • Carol Sinclair (CS)
  • Peter Tolland (PT)
  • Gareth Williams (GW)
  • Pete Whitehouse (PW) 


  • Susie Braham
  • Janet Egdell
  • Tim Ellis
  • Roger Halliday
  • Alan Howie
  • Geoff Huggins
  • Paul Lowe
  • Mary McAllan
  • Stephen Peacock

Items and actions

Welcome and opening remarks

SV welcomed attendees to the ninth meeting of the DDG.

Note of meeting on 27 October 2020

AK confirmed that actions 1 and 2 in paper DDG/20/4/2, had been completed.

DDG priority task updates

Scotland’s AI strategy

GD, Chair of the Scottish AI Alliance, gave an update. The Strategy, published on 22 March, sets out three tracks of actions across three timeframes, with those within the First 100 Days now complete. Key amongst these was the first meeting of the Scottish AI Alliance Leadership Circle on 7 June, and sessions to help inform the development of the Scottish AI Playbook. A workshop to develop personas for the Playbook will take place on 5 August. 

The Strategy has elicited very positive feedback from across Scotland, the UK and the World. International engagement is a growing area of work, as is ensuring alignment with initiatives such as Scotland’s new Digital Strategy and the Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review. A new CivTech® 6.0 Challenge on public trust and agency in AI will get underway shortly. 

Data standards and data transformation framework

SNi, Head of Data Standards, gave an overview of the Framework. It aims to improve and enable the reuse of Scottish public sector data, and sets out a shared vision for data maturity model and the core supporting elements. 

Covid-19 Data and Intelligence Network

Anne Jamieson, Head of the Network, provided an update. The Network was established at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 to provide an evidence base to inform decision-making. Novel in bringing various organisations together, it has evolved into a community of data experts in Scottish Government, Local Authorities, NHS Scotland, academia and further afield.

Ethics and privacy have been key from the outset, and a framework has been developed to ensure that these remain intrinsic to all activities. A recent project, led by the Usher Institute, was the development of an AI-powered Covid-19 risk stratification tool.

SV invited questions. RS asked if the third sector were involved with activities; AJ advised that the Network is open to engaging with further partners and she would welcome RS making an introduction. DA asked what provisions there are for citizen representation; AJ advised that it is intended to build on participation mechanisms developed by the Network as part of its legacy. 

DA noted that there can often be a strong organisation-centric perspective on participation, but that citizen engagement is a two-way process. IM noted that it can be difficult to engage with some organisations on data due to cultural issues. NS offered to share a report and toolkit, due to be published shortly, on participatory public engagement for digital health and social care. 

Strategic discussion – DDG future options – breakout rooms

Chair’s update

SV observed that it is timely to reflect on how recent developments have impacted the DDG, its work and where it goes next. A note on the history of the DDG and some options for its future (Annex A below) was included with the agenda to help stimulate discussion. Two breakout rooms were set up: one to discuss the DDG’s strategic approach, the other tangible outcomes; each had a page through which members could also contribute. 

Strategic approach

Question: How do we get the DDG to be more strategic?

Attendees: SV, SNi, NS, CS, RMS, MS, PT, SNo.

NS suggested that an infographic of the governance landscape would be helpful, as would refreshing the vision for data in light of wider developments and work to date on the High Level Delivery Plan; SV and others were supportive. Whilst DDG meetings are a useful forum for sharing knowledge, members’ expertise could be better harnessed; it was suggested that there be subgroups for discussions that are more relevant or of interest to specific members.  

RMS noted that while the DDG has good information it is not efficiently communicated, and there is a need to provide for progress updates between meetings. It was suggested that an online platform be used for this, freeing up meetings for more focused strategic discussion.

Tangible outcomes

Question: How do we get the DDG to have more of a tangible impact?

Attendees: AK; GD; GW; KM; DA; IM; CM; JF.

DA noted that there is a need to ‘join the dots’ between a lot of great data-related initiatives across Scotland. The DDG seems to have limited awareness of much grassroots activity and it was suggested that a visualisation could help to identify strengths, gaps and opportunities, particularly in participation and engagement. 
IM, seconded by KM, noted that it can be confusing to have so many different groups, often with similar titles and remits. It was observed that DDG meetings can be taken up with updates, and there would be value in facilitating members’ contributions and discussions between meetings. AK advised that the Covid-19 Data & Intelligence Network provides for both strategic and open conversations. 

The need for clarity on groups’ purpose and value was discussed, as was the scope to redefine the DDG’s role in what can feel a cluttered and complex governance landscape. GD cited the need to candidly ask if the DDG and other groups add value and, if not, wind them down; others seconded this. AK closed by noting the clear desire to reform the DDG, and inviting further thoughts on opening a bigger conversation on data in Scotland.

Strategic discussion – DDG future options – reconvening

Members reconvened to reflect on points from the breakout room discussions. SV noted that a hybrid of options B and C (see Annex A) appeared to resonate with the group, which then invites the question on what should be taken forward first. RS suggested that an infographic on the data governance landscape could be a useful starting point; AK acknowledged this and stated that he would be happy to progress this alongside a review of the vision for data for Scotland. SV and several members welcomed this commitment to what will be a valuable piece of work – a draft infographic and vision review paper will be shared ahead of the next meeting. SV advised that members could submit further comments via their respective room’s link.   


RS highlighted that there may be scope for a DDG project related to COP26 in November. AK welcomed this suggestion and agreed to discuss it further with RS and AJ. 

Closing remarks

SV thanked all for attending what had been a productive meeting, shedding much light on what the DDG wants and sees itself doing. 

Next meeting 

TBC – likely December 2021.


  • put prospective third sector partners for the Covid-19 Data & Intelligence Network in touch with AJ – RS
  • once published, share report and toolkit on participatory public engagement for digital health and social care with the group – NS
  • initiate infographic on the data governance landscape and review of the vision for data for Scotland – AK
  • discuss potential DDG COP26 project group and ideas – AK, RS, AJ

Annex A - strategic discussion – DDG future options


Intended to be a smaller and nimbler successor to the Data Management Board, the Data Delivery Group  (DDG) was convened in February 2019, and tasked with producing a High Level Delivery Plan (HLDP) to realise the Vision for Data for Scotland  (VfD). The first few meetings focused on the primary task of developing the HLDP, which was last discussed in October 2019

The terms of reference  (ToR) also allow the DDG to support priority projects to help realise the VfD. In March 2019, the development of an AI strategy was endorsed as the priority for 2019-2020. January 2020 saw the development of Research Data Scotland, data skills and the adoption of data standards endorsed as the top priorities for 2020-2021. 

Prof Shannon Vallor took over as chair in April 2020, with meetings in April and July focused on Covid-19 work, and priority projects’ progress. A discussion on the DDG’s role was opened in October, with members agreeing that it was timely to review the ToR, citing the potential to look at and learn from elsewhere, and the DDG’s taking on more of an oversight role; this discussion was to be continued at the next meeting in spring 2021.


Options to refresh the DDG include: 

  • reviewing the HLDP as is, considering how practicable and desirable it would be to further develop it to reflect current circumstances, then taking this forward
  • replacing its primary task with becoming a data overview and knowledge exchange, better linked to the Covid-19 Data & Intelligence Network, and governance groups for the Digital and AI Strategies and Scottish Tech Ecosystem Review
  • replacing its primary task with refreshing the vision for data for Scotland, published in 2012, to reflect today’s landscape - perhaps drawing in elements from the draft HLDP
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