Harnessing the data explosion for public good

Wednesday 17th sees the next instalment in the Think Data for Government event series, with an agenda full of insightful topics and brilliant speakers. This is a must attend event.

Posted 4 May 2023 by Matt Stanley

Data is now the number one asset for public sector organisations wishing to transform outcomes for citizens, and there is huge excitement about the possibilities. Government has been increasingly active in furthering the use of data and AI, and consulting on a new pro-innovation regulatory framework. 

But there’s trepidation too, with civil society organisations raising increasingly loud alarm bells over bias, privacy and security. It’s also not clear whether all public bodies have the infrastructure, resources and most importantly the skills to take advantage of the new approaches.

At this conference we will take a joined-up look at some key opportunities and challenges for public bodies and their suppliers, hearing from a diverse range of exciting speakers about current thinking and best practices. 

We have a jam-packed agenda with some amazing speakers from across both the public and private sectors. Here is a in depth look at the topics we are covering and the speakers involved.

Our KEYNOTE this conference, is being given by Tom Smith, Director Spatial Data Unit and chief data officer at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities who will share insight into the spatial data unit’s work to support levelling-up across the UK, delivering the data, infrastructure and insights needed for national and local delivery.

Our first session of the day is GAINING TRACTION FOR YOUR DATA STRATEGY, which is a fireside chat between Tetyana Mykhaylyk, head of data analytics at Companies House and James Herbert, ceo of our headline sponsors Pivotl. Tetyana will share the practical steps she has taken at Companies House to ensure data starts to embed itself into the day-to-day life of an organisation. These include Data Development Framework, Data Business Partners, Data Champions and Data Centres of Practice.

The final session before our mid-morning break is called FROM CLOUD-FRIST TO DATA-FIRST. The race to the cloud has dominated many public sector departments’ digital transformation strategies over the last decade. But has this led technologists to become too fixated on getting to a particular destination versus aligning strategic, organizational and technological choices with the overarching goal of leveraging data as a strategic asset? Creating true value from data is complex, and in public sector organisations it is often isolated in individual applications or locations. And this is only set to expand in a society where individuals will generate ever-increasing amounts of data and data sources are increasingly distributed across clouds and edges. How do we ensure society and individuals get the most from the potential digital dividend? We have 3 great speakers on this panel, Charlie Boundy, head of advanced analytics at DWP, Lisa Allen, director of data and tech services at the Open Data Institute and Russell Macdonald, chief technologist public sector and hybrid cloud at HPE.

After the break we return with a session focusing on the importance of BUILDING DATA CAPABILITY AND DATA CAREERS. What will the government data leaders of the future look like? Our last Think Data for Government conference revealed a strong push across government to recruit and retain skilled staff in data roles, as public bodies invest in increasing their data capability. We will hear from our panellists on how building organisational capability is translating into new roles, ways of working and career paths. Our speakers for this session are Alison Adams, head of data science capability at the ONS, Richard Brown, assistant director data at Homes England and George Burbidge, enterprise account exec at Multiverse.

Our next session is called DEBUNKING BIG DATA: HOW I CAME TO LOVE THE DELETE BUTTON and explores how the Cabinet Office has successfully been able to locate, retrieve and appraise its records, providing the opportunity to address its digital heap by automatically recommending content that should be kept or deleted. With the help of deploying Automated Intelligence’s cloud-based data analytics and migration AI.DATALIFT platform, the Cabinet Office has been able to deliver accurate and reliable disposal decisions, aiding digital archivists to greatly reduce the volume of ROT. Hear from David Canning (Cabinet Office) as he discusses the challenges government departments face in relation to its data and how not all big data provides positive outcomes. Automated Intelligence’s CSO, Paul Hudson will also cover the disruptive nature of ChatGPT and how the data behind the large language model is key to discovering informed insights.

Before lunch, we have a panel on TRUST IN DATA, with our speakers Dr Louise Sheridan, deputy director at the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation and Lisa Allen (Open Data Institute) who examines how data professionals can avoid the problems that arise when a dataset developed for one purpose is used for another, and what those creating open data need to know. This against the backdrop that data sharing between public bodies and beyond has become the norm, so, what does it mean to trust a dataset, or the organisation behind it? Organisations may have different goals, data definitions, and requirements for accuracy and granularity.

After lunch we return with the presentation DATA AT YOUR FINGERTIPS, from Dominic Hale, head of strategy for the Integrated data service at ONS, who will share insight into the new and very exciting project coming out of the ONS to bring together ready-to-use data, to enable faster and wider collaborative analysis for the public good. This session is then followed by  FROM ONTOLGIES TO CONTROVERSIES, with Gavin Freeguard, which will look at how government collects and uses data has never been just a technical question, and particularly when things go wrong matters can quickly become controversial or politicised. From citizen surveillance to the statistics governments choose to compile and use to drive public policy, data is power and must be wielded with care. With the expectation of a General Election around the corner, our panellists will discuss best practices in public engagement – and how to tell the difference between a data question and a political question.

Think Data for Government wouldn’t be complete without a session focusing on healthcare and data. For this conference, the session is called HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE: WHERE IS DATA DELIVERING? According to NHS England, “Data saves lives”. But there are many challenges to overcome, from public trust to technical infrastructure and skills – and the vexed question of systems and structures. With various approaches to integrated health and social care now being pursued across the UK, our panellists will discuss what can be achieved with data when there is a supportive environment. Taking part in this session are Ming Tang, chief data and analytics office at NHS England and NHS Improvement and Claire Bloomfield, director at the Centre for Improving Data Collaboration at NHS England.

We round the conference off with a discussion on THE FUTURE OF DATA POLICY. It’s a busy time for policymakers working on data and AI. The newly created Department for Science, Innovation and Technology has been tasked with bringing a strong focus on innovation to data policy and steering the UK government’s Data Protection and Digital Information Bill through Parliament. Internationally, new regulatory frameworks are being developed in the EU, North America, India and beyond. But data policy is highly dynamic with much change still to come – and data leaders need to understand the likely direction of travel if they are to drive sustainable, impactful projects. Sharing their insight in this session is John Kelly, CDO at HM Treasury and Julia Glidden, chair at Pivotl, the conference headline sponsors. 

If this list of discussions has left you wanting more, you still have time to register to attend the conference in Westminster on May 17th