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National Data Strategy Forum Network Group: Unlocking the power of data

National Data Strategy Forum Secretariat


National Data Strategy Forum Secretariat

On 24 March, Sue Daley, co-chair, National Data Strategy (NDS) Forum, and Bethan Charnley, Head of the National Data Strategy Implementation (NDSI) team, DCMS co-hosted the first NDS Forum Network Group session.  

The aim of the Forum Network Group is to provide a regular way to brief network organisations on key priorities of the NDS Forum and how they can get involved. The priority areas we discussed at this session included: 

  • A pilot project to map the data ecosystem 
  • National Data Strategy Mission 1 policy framework events

Mapping the data ecosystem pilot:


The NDSI team shared an update on mapping the data ecosystem pilot project. The pilot was launched in January and is focused on identifying organisations whose activities support the objectives set out in the NDS Mission 1 policy framework, to better understand what the government can do to support their activities which help deliver our goals. 

Pilot project objectives and scope

We want to test the feasibility of creating an openly available resource to show how the work of different organisations fits together in helping realise the ambitions set out in the National Data Strategy.

Our focus is on better understanding activity led by organisations outside of government by mapping the data ecosystem. The pilot is focussed on mapping organisations which are running programmes or activities that support priority areas of the Mission 1 policy framework. 

We want to know if and how such a product might be useful for organisations outside of government; and the value in taking forward the pilot as a collaborative project. In the discussion, attendees shared their views and reflections on the project.

Below is a summary of some of the participants reflections:

  • Participants suggested that the pilot’s mapping database should be published as an open source document to allow for wider transparency and for contributions to be crowdsourced. 
  • Terminology and context is important – the pilot could be misinterpreted as a project to map data sets, rather than organisations working on data activity and initiatives related to the National Data Strategy Mission 1 policy framework. 
  • There is a lot we can learn and build on from the experience of other projects, including the use of machine learning techniques, to help map the data landscape.
  • The pilot could be really helpful in identifying where there are gaps in activities to support the National Data Strategy. These insights could also be of value to organisations supporting businesses to make better use of their data. 
  • Mapping of the data ecosystem beyond government needs to cover organisations working on relevant data activities and initiatives across the UK, not just in England. Regional bodies like the Devolved Administrations and Combined Authorities could make an important contribution to the pilot and help to fill gaps.
  • Finessing the pilot’s methodology and quality assuring the data collection process will be important to refine as the work  moves forward. 
  • The interaction between different strategies such as the National AI Strategy and the National Data Strategy could be an important area to explore as the pilot develops.
  • The pilot could focus more on the interplay between organisations, capturing how they collaborate with or support one another.

Next steps 


Whilst we continue to take steps to quality assure our research before publishing the map we are grateful for the support of organisations like the Open Data Institute, the Royal Society, and techUK who will share their ideas and knowledge to help us map the data ecosystem. 

We are keen for other organisations to contribute to the development of the project to make it even more useful to a wider audience.  If you would like to get involved in contributing to the mapping project, please do reach out to ndsforumsecretariat@dcms.gov.uk who can provide further advice on how you could support. 

We would be particularly interested to hear: your views on: 

    • Whether a map of activity across the data ecosystem map would be useful for your work?
    • If you are aware of any organisations that support priority areas of the Mission 1 policy framework that we could add to our current map? 
    • How could we evolve our approach to deliver better insights?

We will report back in the coming months with a decision on the future of the pilot.

Convening National Data Strategy Mission 1 Policy Framework events 


Participants heard about plans to convene events across the UK to explore potential scenarios to increase data sharing across the economy.  

Last summer, we launched a challenge to NDS Forum participants to help increase the understanding of and the evidence base around how to unlock the power and value of data across different sectors, geographies and sections of society. 

We are now working with PwC on plans for a workshop in Manchester where we will explore a range of data sharing scenarios in the context of “connected places”, testing these with a range of business organisations. 

We were interested to hear from participants about how they could contribute to planning and organising events to explore opportunities for greater data sharing. In the discussion, participants shared their thoughts and observations. These included:

Ensuring we were building on work already going on:

  • There was a lot of interest in the role of data institutions to collect, maintain and share data responsibly across different sectors. For example, on 30 March 2022,  the Open Data Institute (ODI) ran an online event focused on better data sharing and the rise of data institutions.
  • The ODI has also recently published a free guide to help organisations assess and manage  risks when sharing data.

Providing suggestions for future topics for events:

  • Covering the levelling up programme and smart cities agenda in regional conversation.
  • Exploring the use of privacy enhancing technologies (PETs) to enable confidential data sharing and access.
  • Learning from the public health approach to promoting safe and trusted data sharing.

Next Steps

  • We aim to convene further discussions at a regional level to support the National Data Strategy implementation so we are particularly interested in hearing from organisations who would be interested in organising a regional event. Please contact the Forum secretariat at ndsforumsecretariat@dcms.gov.uk for further details.


  • We would like to thank all the attendees that joined us at the first NDS Forum Network Group session and look forward to our continued collaboration. We are also keen for other stakeholders to participate in the Forum’s Network Group, so if you are interested in coming to future events please contact the Forum Secretariat.

Organisations in attendance:

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