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Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF announces first projects

Partners involved in the Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF, which has announced its first projects. Photo by Greg Macvean

The Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF has officially launched in Scotland, announcing three initial projects that will use data to deliver new ways of tackling childhood obesity, address child poverty and improve child population estimates locally, nationally and globally.

Originally announced in the First Minister’s 2018 Programme for Government, the Collaborative is a partnership between UNICEF, the Scottish Government and Edinburgh University’s Data-Driven Innovation Programme. It draws on the strengths of all partners to bring insight and use data to solve problems facing children.

Digital Economy Minister Kate Forbes said: “We are in a very strong position in Scotland to deliver this type of world leading data analysis that helps to save time, money and lives. I am very excited about this collaboration, through partnering with organisations that share our vision for the role of data in improving the lives of children both in Scotland and globally.”

Collaborative projects are identified and selected in a joint review process involving the three partners. Each project is in support of the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and seeks to improve children’s outcomes and well-being around the world.

Lucinda Rivers, Head of UNICEF UK in Scotland, said:  “UNICEF’s mission is to drive better results for more children, but we can only do this by using the power of evidence to deliver a better understanding of some of the challenges they face. We are grateful to the Scottish Government and the University of Edinburgh for supporting this ambition through their support of the Data for Children Collaborative. The world-leading data science and artificial intelligence capabilities now available to UNICEF through this collaboration will help us achieve better results for more children.”

From the Childhood Obesity project which seeks to understand what children are eating and how this is influenced in different settings, to improving global population estimates through satellite imagery and big data, as well as using data to better understand drivers of childhood poverty, each of these first projects aims to deliver insights that can enhance the lives of children globally.

Alex Hutchison, Delivery Director at the Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF, commented:  “It is hugely exciting to be working with UNICEF, the Scottish Government and Edinburgh University’s Data-Driven Innovation Programme to deliver the projects. Each project has the potential to make a real, positive impact on children’s lives worldwide. Pairing insights with data enables us to better understand what is driving childhood obesity and child poverty, and more accurate population estimates will help develop a widely scalable approach to tackling hugely important issues.”

Professor Lesley McAra, Director of the Edinburgh Futures Institute at the University of Edinburgh, added:  “The Edinburgh Futures Institute is proud to be hosting this data collaborative. Our mission is to undertake challenge-based research, education and engagement that harnesses innovations in digital, data and artificial intelligence for social benefit. We are delighted to be working in partnership with UNICEF and the Scottish Government. The Data Collaborative goes to the heart of the values that we embrace as a University.”

I am very excited about this collaboration, through partnering with organisations that share our vision for the role of data in improving the lives of children both in Scotland and globally - Digital Economy Minister, Kate Forbes