Scotland's Open Government action plan 2018 to 2020: detailed commitments

Full detail of Scotland's Open Government action plan commitments for 2018 to 2020.

This document is part of a collection

Commitment 3: Improving how information and data is shared

Timeline: December 2018 – 2020

Lead: Chief Statistician, Scottish Government, Digital Health and Care, Scottish Government COSLA

What problem are we trying to solve?

The public sector holds much information on Scotland, its institutions and communities. The website was launched in 2016 to provide free and open access to Scotland's official statistics data, and currently holds over 200 datasets covering a wide range of topics and organisations. However, much more data remains to be made easily and consistently accessible.

What are we going to do?

We will make more of our rich data public sector data open for social and economic good, and to help people understand how our country is changing.

The Scottish Government will continue to work in partnership across the public sector to expand the range of data hosted on

By 2020, it will include all data underpinning our National Performance Framework and be the 'open as standard' mechanism for publishing all of Scotland's official statistics data, where appropriate. We will develop the platform further to host more types of data, including public sector management information such as financial data.

Building upon and beyond, we will develop innovative ways to make Scotland's data relevant and accessible to a wide range of users, including infographics and interactive apps.

To better understand Scotland's communities, we will increase the number of datasets that provide information at a local level. We will promote the use of this information in local area profiles to aid local decision-making. We will ensure open data is accompanied by the appropriate metadata and explanations to help people understand and reuse it.

We recognise that giving greater access to information alone is not sufficient. The ability to find and filter databases and datasets, identify and isolate noteworthy information from raw data, and turn this into insights to inform decision making: all remain out of reach for most citizens. Thus, data literacy must be developed in order to foster citizen empowerment through the use of data. We will work with representatives from civil society and other government agencies, to consider how we can develop wider data literacy in society. This will include workshops to discuss the idea of developing a programme of data champions or the appointment of a Scottish Data Ombudsman.

Access to information – Public Health and Care

Scotland's Digital Health & Care Strategy, published in April 2018, has a vision of the people of Scotland having access to their information to help maintain and improve their health and wellbeing, and that frontline staff and carers can also access the information they need to deliver high quality care and support. To enable this, the Scottish Government and COSLA have committed in the Strategy to involve the public in developing a consistent national approach to the use of health and care information, including clear and appropriate choices for individuals about how their information will be used and how and when it will be shared. The strategy makes it clear that people expect their information to be available to them. The Strategy further recognises the need to build and maintain trust with greater transparency over how and why such information is used for wider public or societal benefit.

The technical delivery of this ambition is being taken forward through the development of a national digital health & care platform, which is in part designed to 'deliver the digital capability for citizens to access and update information about their health & wellbeing, including their records and from personal monitoring, and to interact with services.' Participative engagement (involving all potential users) is a key requirement, with the Scottish Approach to Service Design being embedded to ensure true co-design of the platform. Alongside that, there is a need to effectively engage with the public to build the necessary trust and to explore the opportunities for greater citizen-led data sharing. To this end, we are launching two innovation challenge with NESTA in 2018/19 around building trust, including understanding what gaining trust means and generating an understanding of the value of sharing data, and on making (any) data useful to citizens for their health and wellbeing.

How will this help solve the problem?

The actions described in this commitment will:

  • increase the amount of Scotland's official statistics published as open data
  • increase the amount of data published at a geographic level that describes communities
  • make data more easily findable, understandable, and reusable
  • communicate the insights from this data to a non-technical audience
  • plan potential future work on data literacy

This commitment deals primarily with improving public access to information:

  • by increasing the amount of data in the public domain, particularly geographically disaggregated data
  • by improving the accessibility of data that is already in the public domain
  • by making it easier for anyone to combine and reuse statistical information

The specific details of the commitment largely focus on the release of data. However, we recognise that a lack of data literacy skills is often a barrier to accessing insights contained in datasets. To mitigate this, and thus broaden access to information, we will use publicly available data to power apps, infographics, and area profiles, which can be accessed by a wider audience.

The Scottish Government's Digital Strategy describes how we will support change and innovation through the effective use of data.


1. Publish all datasets underpinning the National Performance Framework on

2. Assess the suitability of all official statistics in the Scottish Government's publication schedule for publication on

3. 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.

6. Use small area data to produce publicly available local area profiles.

7. Review and improve metadata associated with all open datasets

8. Workshops to consider developing wider data literacy in society

9. In line with the Digital Health and Care Strategy, we will develop an approach with the people of Scotland to ensure their health and care information is accessed and shared in an open and transparent manner in the pursuit of excellent care at the point of contact, further building trust in our health and care services.

State Actors involved: Scottish Government, National Records of Scotland, NHS ISD other public sector data producers. Other partners could be included as this work evolves.

Active partners could include: Open Government Network. Other partners to be included as this work evolves.



Back to top