Innovating with Data in Scotland: multi-sector and multi-disciplinary approaches to support social equality, wellbeing, and participation
The promise of developments in digital data and data processing is that it will increase productivity and efficiency through more intelligent use of data. The promise is ambitious and wide-ranging covering private and public sector business as well as third sector and citizens. There is potential in the better use of data through AI and in the use of new types of data, such as Big Data. However – as yet – that promise is not realised, the tools and the data are available but how best to use those and for what purposes is still not clear.
There is a lack of a clear social vision and a value statement that can guide future developments. In part this is due to poor understanding of data and data processes, limitations in imagining data futures, and a lack of multi-sector and multi-disciplinary partnerships.
Given these issues, the role of the social sciences in collaboration with other disciplines and with societal stakeholders is important. The purpose of SHAPE is to address the role of social science in supporting informed and innovative social change. At the University of Glasgow, the College of Social Sciences Digital Society & Economy Interdisciplinary Research Theme explores the dynamics of digital society, examining how digital technologies shape and intersect with social and economic change.
A seminar in October 2021 explored new ways of innovating with data for societal wellbeing: social and economic in inclusive, progressive, and trusted ways.
The seminar was organised by:
- University of Glasgow Digital Society & Economy Interdisciplinary Research Theme
- Edinburgh Futures Institute
- Policy Scotland
The objectives were to:
- assess current challenges in using data
- develop a social vision for the use of data, and
- identify new ways to innovate with data.
The event brought together a group of experts from the public and private sector, social and data sciences and community and citizen organisations to discuss the challenges and opportunities of data, and new ways to innovate with data.
It was chaired by Julia Unwin, Chair of the Independent Inquiry on the Future of Civil Society, and Bridgette Wessels, University of Glasgow, School of Social and Political Sciences.
What Data Means to You film
The event started with a showing of the short film, What Data Means to You. This was produced to illustrate the public’s perspectives on what data means in people’s lives from diverse voices in the community. The film highlights the public imaginations and lived realities of data from the perspectives of the community in Scotland.
It is the product of a short-film project funded by the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (User Engagement) grant led by Dr. Mark Wong (School of Social & Political Science) and Dr. Inge Sorensen (School of Culture & Creative Arts) at the University of Glasgow. The project partners include the Crichton Trust, East and Southeast Asian Scotland (ESA Scotland), FinTech Scotland, and Nesta Scotland, and it was supported by knowledge exchange Associate of the Glasgow Social and Digital Change Group, Mrs. Bishakha Chaudhury.
See the film on the What Data Means to You webpage.
Speakers and panellists
The keynote address by Professor João Porto de Albuquerque was enitled New ways of Innovating with Data.
- Ana Basiri, University of Glasgow, School of Geographical & Earth Sciences
- Diána Szász, the Open Data Institute
- Alessandro Vinciarelli, University of Glasgow, School of Computing Science
- Shannon Vallor, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Futures Institute
- Nuran Acur, University of Glasgow, Adam Smith Business School
- Jennifer Challinor, the Crichton Trust
- Paul Winstanley, CENSIS
- Chris Speed, University of Edinburgh, Institute for Design Informatics
This policy briefing was produced as a result of the seminar. It consider new ways of innovating with data for social and economic wellbeing in inclusive, progressive, and trusted ways by 1) assessing the current challenges in using data and 2) identifying new ways to innovate with data.
It concludes there is a lack of a clear social vision and a value statement that can guide future developments in data innovation in Scotland. In part this is due to poor understanding of data and data processes, limitations in imagining data futures, and a lack of multi-sector and multi-disciplinary partnerships. There are some emerging practices that are considering how to use data in socially progressive ways.
Attention is needed in how to harness the potential of data for social as well as economic wellbeing. This will require creative approaches to thinking about innovation that is community-led: informed by community values, data knowledge and developed and sustained in an ethics of community care and service. It points to an interdisciplinary and multi-sector approach that works with communities in developing wellbeing that is informed by robust data analytics and social and human intelligence.