Unlocking the Value of Public Sector Data for Public Benefit minutes: August 2022

Minutes from the fifth meeting of the Independent Expert Group for the Unlocking the Value of Scotland's Public Sector Personal Data Programme, held on 31 August 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Angela Daly, University of Dundee (Chair) (AD)
  • Annie Sorbie, University of Edinburgh
  • Ruchir Shah, Open Government and Civil Society Activist
  • Charlie Mayor, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
  • Colin Birchenall, Digital Office, Scottish Local Government
  • Annie Cook, The Democratic Society
  • Rachel Nixseaman, The Democratic Society
  • Doreen Grove, Open Government, Scottish Government


  • Mahlet Zimeta (‘Milly’), The Open Data Institute
  • James Stevenson, Duo Verre Partnership LLP
  • Esperanza Miyake, University of Strathclyde
  • Carol Young, Deputy Director of the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights
  • Ronnie Kelly, Fujitsu UK 
  • Alexander Weir, Canon Medical Research Europe Ltd.

Scottish Government Secretariat

  • Sophie Ilson (SG), Lucille Brown (LB)

Items and actions

Welcome (Chair)

AD welcomed the group and opened the discussion which covered procurement, draft high-level principles and the planned webinar. 

Key points

  • the group was updated on the recent procurement of The Democratic Society to carry out engagement activities
  • over the summer, AD has worked on draft guiding principles, published in a blog, in preparation for the webinar, due to be held on 1 September 2022
  • the webinar will be the first of several opportunities for data practitioners, and the wider public, to participate in a citizen-centred process of engagement. It will be hosted by Carol Sinclair, Strategic Data Adviser, Digital Health and Care, Scottish Government
  • the group is considering running another online session, as a follow-up to the webinar, to allow those in different time zones to participate, e.g. Australia and New Zealand
  • AD had a meeting at which she updated the Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, on progress of the IEG

Conference participation

  • International Population Data Linkage Network (IPDLN), 6 September to 8 September 2022. Alexander (Sandy) Weir of the IEG is due to take part and will report back to the group
  • Data for Policy Conference (end of 2022) – we are in discussions with the organisers regarding the terms of participation

Summary of IEG key priorities

  • co-produce high-level principles and a policy statement that can be put into practice in the operationalisation phase
  • produce a written IEG report, with recommendations, by the end of 2022

Doreen Grove - open government

Doreen Grove, SG Open Government lead, provided an overview of the Open Government (OG) principles, which underpin the work of the IEG. The Open Government Partnership is a partnership between civil society and state. Scotland is a partner in its own right.

The Open Government Action Plan for Scotland has five commitments:

  • fiscal transparency
  • health and social care
  • climate change
  • participation and improvements to democracy
  • data and the ethical use of digital

Key points

  • the purpose is to achieve a culture of governance that promotes the principles of transparency, integrity, accountability and people’s participation in support of democracy.  In this way, government can be held to account
  • OG can help by connecting this work with relevant partners internationally, e.g. the AI Collaborative and work from the Data and Intelligence Network
  • regarding participation, a set of values and principles for the institutionalising of participative and deliberative democracy have been developed
  • OG recognises the benefits and also risks associated with the use of data

Action: Doreen will connect the IEG with these pieces of work and their outputs/tools.

The Democratic Society – plans for engagement

The Chair talked the group through the nine draft principles.

Key points

  • the need to define the meaning of ‘private sector’, and consider whether the high-level principles should be applied more broadly (and extended to the use of public sector data by other bodies)
  • the need to explore nebulous terms such as ‘public benefit’, ‘public interest’ and ‘value’ and develop working definitions of these terms. Recognition that ‘value’ is likely to be used to denote social, environmental and economic value

The Democratic Society introduced themselves and their proposal for four main deliverables by the end of January 2023:

  • deliverable 1: Stakeholder engagement through an advisory design workshop and one-to-one meetings with experts. (October 2022). This aims to ask: are these principles inclusive? What are key questions to ask the public? Create examples to engage the public around data
  • deliverable 2: Public engagement through two public co-creation workshops; finalising guiding principles and a policy statement for data (November to December 2022) 
  • deliverable 3: Production of a report; data guiding principles; policy statement and participatory decision-making methods for ongoing public involvement (January 2023) 
  • deliverable 4: Production of a webinar; engaging the public in decision-making around data (January 2023)

Work with the IEG has begun on:

  • stakeholder mapping to inform engagement. Should it be particular focus groups or would it be better to engage with groups who are broadly representative?
  • identifying priority questions for public engagement
  • strengths/weaknesses/opportunities/threats (SWOT analysis)

There will be more discussions with IEG members on these questions in follow up sessions.

Next IEG meeting: 28 September 2022, 13.00 to 14.30.

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