Data Delivery Group meeting: October 2020

Agenda and minutes for the Data Delivery Group meeting in October 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • Shannon Vallor (SV)
  • David Alexander (DA)
  • Susie Braham (SB)
  • Heather Burns (HB)
  • Jonathan Cameron (JC) 
  • Kevin Collins (KC)
  • Phillip Couser (PC) 
  • Gillian Docherty (GD)
  • Tim Ellis (TE)
  • Graham Fairlie (GF)
  • Nicole Frith (NF)
  • John Fotheringham (JF)
  • Katy Guthrie (KG)
  • Alan Howie (AH)
  • Geoff Huggins (GH)
  • Sophie Ilson (SI)
  • David Kelly (DK) 
  • Albert King (AK)
  • Iain McKay (IM)
  • Alessia Morris (AM)
  • Rod Murray-Smith (RMS)
  • Shona Nicol (SNi) 
  • Scott Nowbaveh (SNo) 
  • Stephen Peacock (SP)
  • Nayha Sethi (NS)
  • Ruchir Shah (RS) 


  • Lisa Allen
  • Roger Halliday
  • Paul Lowe
  • Matthew Rice
  • Gareth Williams

Items and actions

Welcome and opening remarks

SV welcomed attendees to the eighth meeting of the DDG, the first to be held via MS Teams.

Note of meeting on 23 July 2020

On action 1 in paper DDG/20/3/3, SNi advised that several members had gave feedback on the proposals for a Data Transformation Framework (paper DDG/20/3/2) and that most of this was positive. A recent series of workshops on data standards were insightful, and suggested there would be value in developing a community of practice. AH asked how organisations would be able to get involved: SNi advised that plans are in development, and that Registers of Scotland will be approached shortly.  

No update was provided on action 2, Matthew Rice having had to offer his apologies at short notice. HB subsequently advised that Matthew will provide an update at the next meeting. 

Covid-19 data work update

Covid-19 Data and Intelligence Network 

AK gave an update on the Network, which aims to service the information needs of Ministers, local and national agencies involved in responding to Covid-19. It takes a joined-up and collaborative approach, actively seeking to source data, reacting to new tasks and supporting the work of Public Health Scotland. A recent focus was the successful development of an ethics framework for data use, which JC highlighted was drawn from in the development of the Protect Scotland app. AK noted that the Network has highlighted both Scotland’s strengths in data, issues around data infrastructure and the importance of working in partnership. NS asked how DDG members could contribute to this work: AK invited NS to email in the first instance, and agreed to introduce both her and SV to the TF2 working group. RS asked if there had been any third sector involvement with the Network: AK advised that SCVO had been involved, and that there is a desire to reinstate broader input; RS and AK agreed to discuss this further offline. DA asked if the third sector had contributed to the development of the Protect Scotland app: JC confirmed that there had been involvement in this and related work. 

DDG priority task updates

Scotland’s Data Story (SDS) and Research Data Scotland (RDS)

AK advised that there was no progress to report on SDS.    

AM gave an update on RDS, the national ‘one stop shop’ support service for those conducting research in the public interest using public data in Scotland. RDS aims to provide clearer and quicker access to data and is already developing data sets as well as providing a Covid-19 data service. Route maps for information governance work, the researcher service experience and stakeholder expectations have been completed. RDS will be a company with charitable status: a business case to secure further resources is in development, as are marketing plans. KC asked if RDS have discussed making data available to support research and innovation with the UK National Data Strategy team: AM advised that access to UK level data has been discussed with some UK Government departments, and there is scope to make further links; RS highlighted the value of engaging with the third sector. KC will arrange to meet with AM and Roger Halliday to discuss projects that the Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence are working on at the intersection of public and private sector data.

Privacy Principles and Ethics Framework and Review of Information Governance (IG)

SB advised that the principles remain in development: work on them and the review of IG has been prioritised over the framework. SI advised that the review is still at an investigative phase, with options to link it to related work, and explore public and stakeholder views, under consideration. 

Data skills

Stephen O’Neill was due to give an update but did not attend. 

Strategic discussion

Chair’s update 

SV opened by reflecting on the impacts of Covid-19. Having chaired three meetings, she feels that now is the time to reflect on how Covid-19 and other developments have impacted the group and its work. The discussion is intended to allow for this and consideration of where the DDG goes next, and will be continued at the next meeting.

UK National Data Strategy (NDS)

The UK Government is presently consulting on the NDS.  

KG advised that ScotlandIS plans to respond, and asked if DDG members or their organisation plan to do the same. SV advised that the University of Edinburgh does, with Jarmo Eskilenen, Director of the Data Driven Innovation programme, coordinating a response. Input to this from the University’s AI and Data Ethics Advisory Board will highlight concerns about the NDS’ articulation of data ethics, which appears focused on data protection and not wider ethical aspects, and a lack of clarity on the role of the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI). HB advised that the Open Rights Group are also concerned by the NDS's tendency to lean towards ‘soft’ ethics regulation by the CDEI as opposed to ‘hard’ statutory regulation by the Information Commissioner’s Office, which could be seen as ‘ethics washing’; RS noted that there appears to be an increasing prevalence of such washing. DA advised that Mydex CIC will respond to the NDS consultation, and to that on an updated Digital Strategy for Scotland. 

Digital Strategy for Scotland

The Scottish Government is working with COSLA to deliver a refreshed digital strategy for Scotland. A consultation on proposals is open until 23 December.  

Scotland’s AI strategy

GD advised that the consultation, engagement programme and working group reports have been published and work progresses. There has been international interest in the development process, including by the OECD, to whose ‘Policies for AI’ working group GD presents on 9 November, and from Singapore and New Zealand. A podcast interview with Kate Forbes MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, will be on the strategy website soon; Ms Forbes will chair a meeting of the steering committee on 19 November. AK and JF will discuss work to date in a panel event on 25 November

DDG next steps

AK welcomed the group’s rich discussion of a range of topics. He is keen to position the Logan Review and updated Digital Strategy as providing the wider ecosystem for specific initiatives, such as Scotland’s AI Strategy, and would welcome discussing strategic alignment at the next meeting. SV advised that she would be interested in discussing wider data infrastructure. JC highlighted that the Digital Health and Social Care Strategy, forthcoming Data Strategy for Digital Health and Care and initiatives such as SWAN (Scottish Wide Area Network) address some areas. AK stated that work to deliver commitments such as the Connecting Scotland and Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programmes, Scotland’s 5G Strategy and the updated Digital Strategy, as well as on digital economy and skills, will address many areas. AM noted the need to consider a more joined-up and strategic approach to IG.

SV asked members if they felt it timely for the DDG to review its Terms of Reference. RS cited the potential to look at data initiatives elsewhere, and how they are being taken forward. JC advised that the Digital Health and Care Innovation Centre (DHI) had conducted an analysis comparing Covid-19 responses internationally; AK stated that he would follow up with Prof George Crooks OBE, DHI CEO, regarding this. DA highlighted that Mydex CIC had completed an analysis of national data strategies; AK agreed to share an overview of AI strategies. RS cited the potential to tap into citizen science and third sector data. SV noted that comparison with the US would not be practicable, but that it would be worth considering other countries to compare Scotland with; this will be discussed at the next meeting. RS seconded NS’ comment on the need for careful consideration when drawing international comparisons, as several factors – social, political, historical and cultural – can affect outcomes. SV noted that whilst Scotland does comparatively well on public engagement, there is a continuing need to do more, listen and reflect. 

Public trust in data usage was discussed. NS asked how there can be meaningful engagement across society, and a clear two-way dialogue between providers and users to enable genuine co-production of services. SV cited the need to better communicate changes, as feedback suggests poor preparation can lead to poor experiences that, in turn, lead to disengagement. SV asked how Scotland could communicate the potential benefits of data without creating unrealistic expectations: NS advised candour on challenges and trade-offs, and transparency; DA suggested independent certification. DA proposed that a DDG-owned dashboard – perhaps for public sector work initially – would be a good way forward; NS seconded this. RS offered to work with DA to kickstart a systems map; KG offered to look out details of similar initiatives. 


No other business was raised.  

Closing remarks

SV thanked all for attending and advised that the next meeting will be longer to allow for further strategic discussion. 

Next meeting 

2 hours, late January, via MS Teams. 


  • share Covid-19 Data and Intelligence Network slide deck with DDG members – AK/SNo
  • introduce both NS and SV to the TF2 working group – AK 
  • discuss further third sector input to the Covid-19 Data  Iandntelligence Network offline – RS/AK
DDG meeting agenda: October 2020
DDG note of meeting: October 2020
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