DCMS blog

National Data Strategy: our co-creation journey

Sasjkia Otto and Claire Donaldson


Sasjkia Otto and Claire Donaldson

Vision Lead and Engagement Lead, National Data Strategy Team

The National Data Strategy team reflect on their findings from roundtable discussions as they move towards co-creating the long-term vision for the data ecosystem

Since launching our call for evidence during Tech Week 2019, the government’s National Data Strategy (NDS) team has spoken with around 250 people from 200 different organisations in the public and private sector on how to unlock the power of data whilst securing trust in its use. As we reflect on what we’ve learnt, we’re looking to the next phase of engagement. Over autumn we will be co-creating a vision with the public for how data can help shape a future where everyone can flourish.

With thanks to techUK, Nesta, Tech Nation, the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Alan Turing Institute, Wiggin LLP, Understanding Patient Data, the National Innovation Centre for Data, Sunderland Software City, the Welsh Government and the Department for International Trade among other government partners for hosting and convening, the NDS team heard from individuals representing civil society, SMEs, the voluntary and charity sector, digital and tech businesses, and the wider public sector.

This level of collaboration was hugely exciting for the NDS team. We aim to create a human-centred strategy that works for everyone. To do this, we will involve a range of people whose lives will be touched by the strategy – now and in the future.

This is why we  reached out beyond London and into the regions. From Cardiff to Leeds, Bristol to Belfast, Manchester to Newcastle, the team wanted to ensure as many people as possible had the opportunity to shape the NDS.

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Roundtable themes

At the roundtables, we considered the provisional objectives set out in our call for evidence under three areas of focus: people, economy and government. Attendees discussed how to:

  • ensure that all people and organisations can effectively participate in the data-driven society and economy
  • improve growth, productivity and public services through the effective collection, sharing and use of data
  • improve efficiency through better cooperation and alignment on data sharing and use – in the public and private sectors
  • ensure that data is used in a way that people and organisations can trust

There was great enthusiasm for a potential future where data acts and is perceived as a public good. To realise this potential, people wanted to see more and better access to, and use of, data across the public, private and social sectors. They want this to happen in a way that makes the most of opportunities while minimising risks – both today and as the world changes. At the same time, they wanted to see a focus on data ethics. In some cases, they asked whether certain types of data should be used, shared or stored at all. 

We heard how timely and necessary it is to have a coherent vision and framework to make this happen. We heard about the importance of leadership, and the role of government as a catalyst for better infrastructure, capability and practice. We understand that unlocking more of the data held within government and using it more effectively will be foundational to strategy. Further, it could be central to making the most of data across the economy and society as a whole.

Digital Strategy

Moving to the next stage

We take on board that we are part of a local and international ecosystem, which will be pivotal to realising our ambitions. The appetite we saw for a wider public discussion on data was encouraging – especially as we move to our next phase of engagement.

We have started considering what the themes emerging from our evidence mean for what our future could look like and our strategy to get us there. We’re excited to be doing this in collaboration with colleagues across the public sector and  the wider public.

Get involved

In the coming months, we will be holding a series of events for  a range of people from across the UK to participate in co-creating a collective vision for the future. We hope that this process will give a voice to people who may be underrepresented in the data society and policymaking processes.

If you’d like to be involved as a participant, community organiser or host, or have thoughts on how the process could work, please get in touch at nationaldatastrategy@culture.gov.uk.

Read more blogs about our National Data Strategy.

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