Progress to October 2023
Commitment 3: data and digital commitment
Open up data relevant to other open government themes, such as key climate change datasets used by government for modelling and reporting, data on public transport and public sector expenditure.
Progress and next steps
With colleagues working on the Climate Change Plan, we have identified a relevant dataset to potentially publish openly. Working collaboratively with engagement, policy and analytical teams, we prepared the case for opening up the data by answering four key questions. This developed a common understanding and helped identify some of the risks and barriers that may be encountered.
There are dependencies in relation to the timescales that are possible, but good foundations are in place to support publication of the relevant dataset.
We remain committed to working with the Fiscal Transparency Programme to support their work when required in the remaining part of this year.
- support colleagues in the Fiscal Transparency Programme with their Data Review and Data Strategy
- progress initial plans to openly publish specific climate change data
- share guidelines and insights from the Pilot Public Engagement Panel with Open Government commitments
Run a CivTech challenge to evaluate if technology can make public sector data easy to find, assess outcomes and set out the way forward.
Progress and next steps
The Scottish Government is continuing to work with NatureScot on a CivTech data discoverability challenge to evaluate if technology can make public sector data, held across multiple portals, easier to find, access and use.
We have been gathering user feedback on the Beta version of the Dtechtive data discovery search engine, developed by Dtime.
The currently available public version of the tool has now been rebranded as Find.Data.Gov.Scot and will be launched soon as a white-label version for use as a standalone tool and an application programming interface (API) for integration into other platforms.
As described previously, users can discover hidden datasets using simple terms including preview and download data, and recommend data sets. Users can also feedback to data providers.
The number of datasets the tool can identify is being added to continually. Recent user feedback from community groups resulted in additional data sources on community wealth building grants and 360 Giving third sector grant data being incorporated.
Ten data source sites were integrated with the tool from April to September and another ten will be added over the next six months.
We believe this is the largest data discovery portal in Scotland, providing a greater variety of unrestricted data sources of different formats when compared to an internet search.
- continue to add data sources
- develop the API integration capability
- soft launch Find.Data.Gov.Scot at a DataFest Fringe event in early November
Set up the Data Transformation Framework stating what ‘good data’ looks like and the process by which organisations can improve – this focuses on opportunity for organisations to improve data maturity, data literacy and adoption of standards, through collaboration and engagement with local government and other public sector bodies, to be useful for civil society
Progress and next steps
We have developed the first iteration of a minimum viable product of a modular, self-supporting approach to the data maturity programme. This will be trialled with the third cohort of the data maturity programme running from September 2023 alongside the facilitated sessions. Feedback will inform at what stage and in what way it will best support public sector users. We will also investigate its potential to be hosted for wider use by the Scottish Digital Academy and as part of a service manual to support the transformation of Scottish public digital services.
We have doubled capacity for the third cohort of the data maturity programme, which launched in September to accommodate interest from across the public sector. In addition to the pathway products for data strategy and data governance that were started earlier this year, good progress has been made on the data standards pillar and work is also underway on an innovation pillar to support the data improvement process.
The second persona project, which provided representation of people in the public sector most likely to engage early with the Data Transformation Framework, has been used for a University of Edinburgh consultancy project. This produced recommendations on approaches and techniques to encourage engagement with the Framework, and also with work on engagement with data standards.
We have developed two model group structures for data leadership in the public sector. One based on developing a long-term vision and another for realising the vision. Terms of reference have been drafted and we are in the process of agreeing facilitation and secretariat support to recruit group members.
- seek feedback for further development of the MVP for the modular, self-guided data maturity programme
- set up public sector data leadership groups
- identify options to openly publish data transformation framework resources in a way that users can engage to develop the products
Review the front end of our official statistics open data publishing platform, www.statistics.gov.scot.
Progress and next steps
Over the summer, we scoped out where the language on statistics.gov.scot could be changed. We then ran the wording of key phrases through the Hemingway Editor. This tool can help with making written language more clear to follow, by considering the expected reading age of the text that we’ve written. In doing this, we found that the Hemingway Editor is not suited for the particular use case of statistics.gov.scot, being more suited to, for example, statistical publications and blogs. In the spirit of agile approaches, we are investigating other routes. For example, we have made constructive links with Scottish Government colleagues who lead on digital accessibility and they are providing us with informed feedback.
We’re developing a road map to scope further improvements to the technical capabilities and front-end of our official statistics open data publishing platform, statistics.gov.scot, to better meet needs of our users (both data producers and consumers) in an agile manner. This programme of work will realistically continue beyond the end of the current duration of Scotland’s Open Government Action Plan 2021 to 2025.
We are proposing two major improvement themes, and both will be driven by user needs. One of these is development of new wireframes for an improved user interface for the site. The second is to improve the publishing routes and pipelines to provide clarity to data producers. This will make processes more sustainable, and in turn increase impact. These will need to be underpinned by strong data governance and communications to clearly tailor our offer. To start the programme we have been awarded some Scottish Government Statistics Development Fund funding for user research on the site.
- continue to develop road map for statistics.gov.scot improvement themes, taking into account user needs
- scope out programme of work for Statistics Development Fund improvements to statistics.gov.scot
Increase the amount of Scottish public sector open data being published, through collaborations such as the Data Standards and Open Data Community of Practice.
Progress and next steps
We are continuing to make considerable strategic progress in growing the Community of Practice for Data Standards and Open Data for members of the public sector across Scotland.
In early summer, we ran a drop-in session on the open government data and digital commitment, which was run collaboratively by Scottish Government officials and our Open Government civil society lead for the data commitment. We presented a similar presentation at the Scottish Digital Academy Data Month in September.
We have continued to deliver drop-in sessions and clinics. To focus our collective learning, we are now grouping these sessions into themes. In September and October 2023 we ran a series of targeted sessions on Data Quality, and these sessions are ongoing. The sessions have been facilitated by members of the Scottish Government along with speakers from across the public sector, including representatives from the UK’s Data Quality Hub.
The attendance, participation and engagement has been encouraging. In some events, well over 200 people attended, with 100+ people regularly attending. We feel that this can help data producers realise the foundational importance of good quality data for re-use. We also ran sessions with organisational champions across public sector organisations, with workshops on topics such as describing data, and making data terminology easier to understand. We have also delivered a Data Governance workshop.
In early November 2023, the Scottish Government will be participating in the DataFest Data Summit. DataFest is an international conference held in Edinburgh, created to bring together data leaders across the industry in Scotland to celebrate innovations in data and artificial intelligence (AI).
The Scottish Government will be hosting stalls on data and AI. We will be using this event to link with data producers and consumers to better understand their needs. As part of the DataFest, the Scottish Government Data Division will be running a 2-day fringe event on the Community of Practice for Data Standards and Open Data Community. Sessions on a range of topics will see data colleagues from across the public sector in Scotland come together to discuss and share their experiences, ideas and expertise.
There will also be sessions showcasing the innovative use of data and AI within the public sector. The sessions are built around the central theme of open data and data standards and work towards our mission to mainstream the use of AI and the development of seamless online public services. Practical breakout sessions at lunch will offer colleagues opportunities to enhance their skills.
Over summer 2023, Scottish Government worked with Fractals co-op and Open Data Services Co-operative to hold a series of online workshops and bi-lateral interviews to help us understand the technical and operational issues that make publishing open data challenging for public services, and where there have been successes in helping public services publish open data. We ran 4 public workshops and a series of bilateral interviews to members across the public, private and third sectors, academia, and the wider open data community to help us identify how issues show up, how users navigate these issues, how they could be solved, and to understand what works well for them.
We received a good range of constructive input and views from users. The findings of both the workshops and wider-desk based research are helping inform our contractors to start to sketch out an independent report on the current state of play with open data in Scotland. The report is intended to contain some recommendations on how we should refresh our guidance and messaging to help data producers on their journey to open up data and maximise value across the public sector in Scotland. It seeks to explain why open data is important in a more outcomes-based manner and to better think about the value and impact of what we are doing.
Members of the Scottish Government Data Division, Open Data Services Co-operative and Fractals co-op will be presenting the background to this work and some key findings during the workshops at a DataFest Fringe event for the Data Standards and Open Data Community of Practice. We intend to devote some of the time to discussing some of the recommendations with the audience.
- continue to grow the Data Standards and Open Data Community of Practice to facilitate shared learning to make better foundational use of Scotland’s public sector data
- actively engage with data consumers at the Data Summit 2023 to better understand and prioritise user needs from a wide range of stakeholders
- present results of open data workshops and initial recommendations from open data report at Data Summit Fringe event
Develop a public register of AI algorithms.
Progress and next steps
The Scottish AI Register was formally launched in March 2023 at the Scottish AI Summit. The Register provides information on the AI systems in use or in development within the Scottish public sector.
Using the register, both members of the public and those working in AI in the public sector can get to know the basics of the AI systems, examine them in more detail, and learn where we are using data to help make decisions.
Users are also invited to engage with us by asking questions and giving feedback to help us develop trustworthy, ethical and inclusive AI systems.
For public sector users the register is designed to help those starting out on their AI journey by providing them with structure and guidance to adopt a consistent, ethical and open approach to developing and using AI, which is essential to earning the public’s trust.
We are currently seeking ministerial approval to make use of the AI Register mandatory at least within the core Scottish Government, but in the meantime we are engaging across the Scottish Government, and the Scottish public sector, to incentivise participation by demonstrating the benefits of developing AI in the open, and positioning the register as a shared central resource.
Two AI use cases are currently live on the register, one from the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration, considering children at risk, and one from the NHS and Scottish Government, which aims to make access to public services easier for people with disabilities. Additional use cases from Marine Scotland and the Scottish Government’s Data Team are currently under construction and will be live by the end of October 2023.
- we hope to make inclusion in the register a mandatory step in using AI in the Scottish public sector
- we will work with public and third sector users to help them investigate potential efficiencies through shared innovation and best practice
- conversations with Police Scotland, NHS Scotland and internal policy areas are on-going regarding suitable examples for inclusion
- we will continue to work with our contractor to identify national and international opportunities to highlight the best practice demonstrated in Scotland’s use of AI
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