Data science for government and policy

Convenors: Professor Helen Margetts & Professor Tom Melham

Date: 14 March 2016

Location: University of Oxford

Large-scale data and data science methods offer great potential to improve public services and transport, create efficiency savings and deliver innovative solutions to policy problems. Nonetheless, governments have been slower than the private sector to develop capacity in this growing field. Data science applications can present design alternatives to the traditional structures of government, offering governance models more suited to an increasingly digital society and new sources of evidence for policy-making. At the same time, the application of data science to government and policy-making can meet cultural resistance, scepticism, lack of capacity and new ethical challenges distinct to the public sector. With the aim of discussing these issues leading up to the Summit, a series of roundtables have been held at the British Academy with senior policy-makers from across Whitehall, convened by GO-Science.

Summit Details

This 1-day summit organised by the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford in partnership with the Alan Turing Institute and funded by the EPSRC will bring together policy-makers from across government departments with leading edge data science researchers from computational, mathematical and social sciences. Participants will explore the key ways in which data science might be employed in government, presenting success stories and case studies from across the public sector; identify the most important barriers to them being realised, including the distinctive ethical issues involved; identify potential collaborations for government innovation; and start developing a roadmap for how the Alan Turing Institute and government policy-makers can work together to build data science capacity for policy-makers in the future.

Participants will present a number of cutting-edge developments in data science of applicability to government. In leading the discussion, priority will be given to the voices of policy-makers working within the public sector, to identify the issues, bottlenecks, and sector-based best practice from across government. We will introduce the Alan Turing Institute: a national centre for research, discovery, people flow, innovation and translation for the data sciences and analytics across all relevant sectors of scientific, economic and cultural endeavour. There will be open discussion sessions and networking. The aim is to create a network of stakeholders with an interest in working with the Institute to build dedicated capacity and innovation for government.