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Alliance formed for data science standards

23/07/21

Mark Say Managing Editor

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An alliance of professional and research institutions has been set up to create industry-wide standards for data science.

Named the Alliance for Data Science Professionals, it is aimed at creating professional framework for those working in the field.

In turn, this is intended to support an ethical and well governed approach to the work so the public, organisations and governments can have confidence in how their data is used.

Its founding members are BCS - The Chartered Institute for IT, the Royal Statistical Society, the Operational Research Society, the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications, the Alan Turing Institute and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). They are supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society.

Working on draft

First convening earlier this month, it has begun to work with volunteers and stakeholders on draft standards for individuals, standards for universities seeking accreditation of their courses and a certification process.

BCs said there are plans for the standards to be finalised by the autumn.

The alliance itself is governed by a memorandum of understanding that involves a series of commitments including:

  • defining the standards of professional competence and behaviour expected of people who work with data which impacts lives and livelihoods;
  • using an open source process to maintain and update the standards;
  • delivering these standards as data science certifications offered by the alliance members to their professional members, with processes to hold certified members accountable for their professional status in the area;
  • using these standards as criteria for alliance members to accredit data science degrees, and data science modules of associated degrees, as contributing to certification;
  • and creating a single searchable public register of certified data science professionals.

Its members will each have a member on the executive board and have committed to share resources to implement the initial standards.

Paul Fletcher

Paul Fletcher (pictured), CEO of BCS, said: “We are excited to be working with our alliance partners to define and manage standards in the burgeoning area of data science. The pandemic period has further demonstrated that data science provides significant value in creating insight and improving decision making.”

Stian Westlake, CEO of the Royal Statistical Society, commented: “Data science can be a powerful tool for businesses and governments. But just like established fields like engineering or medicine, it needs good standards to ensure it is used wisely and well.

“The alliance will play an important role in setting standards for those working in data science to help organisations make the most of cutting edge new approaches, and so that we can all have confidence that our data is in good hands.”

Image from BCS

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