Open Government Action Plan commitment 3: improving how we share information

Progress reports on our commitment to improve how we share information as part of our open government action plan.

This document is part of a collection

Commitment overview

The problem 

The public told us that they feel strongly that the information we and public bodies share is not always easily accessible and that they cannot always understand it. Some people and organisations like to reuse the information and data that we share, for example, for research or business. To make it possible for people to make good use of public sector data like this, we need to share it in a format that allows this. We provide free and open access to a wide range of data, but there is still more data that we can make easily and consistently accessible.

We also heard from members of the Open Government Network, who thought it was important for open government to make some progress in social policy areas, such as health.

What we're doing 

We will make more public-sector dataavailable for social and economic good. We will:

  • expand the range of data available, continuing to work in partnership across the public sector;
  • share more types of data, such as financial data and all data that supports our National Performance Framework;
  • establish a method for publishing Scotland’s official statistics in a format that allows people to reuse it; and
  • develop innovative ways of making data relevant and accessible to a wide range of users.

We will better understand Scotland’s communities and support people to develop  their skills. We will:

  • increase the amount of information and data about local areas and smaller regions across Scotland;
  • provide appropriate explanations or other information that helps people understand and reuse public data; and
  • plan how we can help you develop skills to make full use of (and reuse) public data.

Also, in line with our Digital Health & Care Strategy, we will involve the public in developing an approach which makes clear how you can choose how we use and share people’s health and care information and how you can access your own information. Working with people across Scotland, we aim to make data useful and make sure that it can be accessed and shared openly and transparently.

How that will help

It will:

  • increase the amount of Scotland’s official statistics published as well described open data;
  • increase the amount of detailed data published on local areas or small regions which helps describe communities;
  • make data easier to find, understand and reuse;
  • explain technical data, and how it can be used, to a non-technical audience; and
  • plan possible future work on helping people to  interpret, understand and communicate statistics and information.


How we're doing

The Open Government Action Plan data commitment covered 2019 and 2020.   As of December 2020, we met the activities outlined in the plan.   The learning we have gained in completing the current Open Government Action plan is helping us to better consider what we would like in a future plan to ensure that open data provide social, economic and environmental benefit to the people of Scotland.    We have continued to increase the number of datasets published as linked open data on, the Scottish Official Statistics 5* open data publishing portal. Open data is a valuable resource that can power data driven technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence. However, it is not simply the publishing of data on a website. For example, without sustainable data standards, the ability to publish high quality, well-described open data for citizens to use and re-use is made much harder.

In 2020, the Scottish Government’s open data team refocused priorities due to COVID-19 related work and associated data publishing.   For example, the team have published weekly and daily COVID-19 datasets on, the Scottish Official Statistics open data publishing platform.  These have received by far the highest web traffic of any datasets on our publishing platform, and the number of visitors to as a whole in 2020 is at its highest ever.  For example, the number of unique page views in April 2020 represented an increase of 45% compared with April 2019, and the December 2020 views were a 376% increase on December 2019 figures  This has been largely driven by interest in published open data as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and people wanting to find out what neighbourhood they live in.

We have developed strong links with other relevant open data producers, such as Public Health Scotland, and collaborated closely to try and ensure open data  publication can be as sustainable and as effective as possible. We have also collaborated with volunteers such as the Scottish Tech Army who have built innovative dashboards based on published COVID-19 open datasets, and they have reflected on their experiences of using open datasets in this process which will help us with thoughts around open data infrastructure.  We are also are working with stakeholders to build case studies where open data have provided social, economic and environmental benefits at a variety of different scales.  These are examples of the types of experiences which will help us start to shape the framing of any future data commitment in the Scottish Open Government Action Plan.

What's next

The COVID-19 pandemic is bringing sharper focus as to what is and isn’t working with our open data publishing, and helping us think about what is useful, sustainable and transparent.  These lessons learnt are becoming increasingly useful as we start to think as to how we might frame a data commitment for the next open government plan.



Milestones Progress
1 Publish all datasets underpinning the National Performance Framework on  Completed
2 Assess the suitability of all official statistics in the Scottish Government’s publication schedule for publication on   Completed

Increase the number of datasets available for small areas (such as data zone and intermediate zone levels)

4 Develop as a tool for publishing public sector management information
5 Use open data to create publicly available infographics and interactive apps  Completed
6 Use small area data to produce publicly available local area profiles  Completed
7 Review and improve metadata associated with all open datasets 🙂 On Track
8 Workshops to consider developing wider data literacy in society  Completed
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