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Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation identifies priorities


Mark Say Managing Editor


The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) has pointed to three major issues for the Government and regulators to address on the use of data.

Signpost to integrity, respect, honesty, ethics

As part of a two-year review of its work since being set up in November 2018, it said there are three recurring challenges that have emerged from its work, and emphasised the importance for the future of public services.

One is developing and maintaining accountability when deploying data driven technologies, reflecting concerns over the scope for misuse of data and possible bias in algorithmic decision making.

Another is addressing the transparency and explainability of data driven systems so they are meaningful to the people affected.

Third is improving access to high quality data in a way that is trustworthy. In relation to this, it will be critical to develop new data stewardship models that enable data to be handled safely and responsibly, as well as to pilot new technical solutions that preserve privacy and confidentiality.

The CDEI said that over the next year it will prioritise three themes in its work: responsible data sharing, including piloting new forms of data stewardship and governance; public sector innovation, with a focus on the most high impact use cases; and assurance in the use of artificial intelligence.

Huge opportunity

Writing in the review’s foreword, its outgoing chair Roger Taylor says: “There is a huge opportunity for the public sector to use data to better serve citizens.

“In the last year, we have seen how data has been used in unprecedented ways to manage the impact of the pandemic, from predicting infection rates to supporting the delivery of furlough.

“Our public engagement suggests that there is an expectation for government to use data to effectively deliver services, and to do so in a way that meets high ethical standards. For public services to responsibly innovate after the crisis, organisations will need to have the toolkit to enable them to meet this demand.”

Publication of the review has come with the announcement that Felicity Burch is to take over from Oliver Buckley as executive director of the CDEI. She has previously been director of innovation and digital at the Confederation of British Industry.

The CDEI - an advisory body to government within the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport - has indicated that a new chair will be announced soon.

Image from iStock, 3D Generator

Amended 13.7.21 to show Oliver Buckley, not Roger Taylor, was former executive director

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