DDI welcomes Audit Scotland report

A recent publication by Audit Scotland highlights the need for a clear, national approach to data if Scotland is to deliver on the ambitions of the Christie Commission and tackle complex, long-standing issues in a coordinated way.

The report authors state:

 “Data is a vital tool that can help leaders tackle these complex and longstanding issues. It can help us know who to assist, where resources will have most impact, and how to plan better. But right now, data is often seen as a burden for public bodies, rather than the key to better policy decisions.”

This clearly highlights the importance of ‘doing data right’, the mission statement of the Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) Initiative at the University of Edinburgh.

The DDI Initiative is a 10-year investment forming part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal. The DDI Initiative focuses on using the power of data to drive inclusive growth across 10 key economic sectors, including the public sector and health and social care. The DDI Programme is currently developing and delivering programmes that wrestle with the complex challenges of data use in the public sector and showcase the positive impact data can make in the design and delivery of public services.

Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF

The Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF is a joint partnership between Scottish Government, UNICEF, and the University of Edinburgh’s Data Driven Innovation Programme. The partnership is focused on improving outcomes for every child using data and responsible innovation practices, and was specifically mentioned in the Audit Scotland report as an example of good practice.

The partnership pulls together a wide range of global collaborators, from academia, private sector, public sector and third sector, to design and deliver challenge led data projects. These challenges range from shedding light on global climate risks, to addressing data complexity and gaps within public services. Each project is underpinned by a bespoke Responsible Innovation framework, acting as a form of capability building across these teams, which ensures each collaboration operates with trust, transparency, and safe data, for every child.  This framework puts ethics, participatory innovation and safeguarding at the front and centre of all their activity.

The Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF, while focussed on bringing value and insight directly to those organisations working directly with children, also prides itself in its sharing of best practice across the Data for Good sector.

The Promise Case Study

In 2020, the Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF embarked on a journey with The Promise Scotland to explore how best to build a cohesive picture of all the data that directly and indirectly impacts children and families in the care system. Not an easy task. The challenge required fresh and bold thinking.

Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF ran an Impact Collaboration, a novel approach that brings together academics, private sector data scientists, and stakeholders from across the public sector community. The team developed a plan that centred the data mapping on what matters to children and families. The project is one of many unique and impactful partnerships created by the Collaborative.

Edinburgh Futures Institute

The Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) is one of the new Innovation Hubs set up by the DDI Programme and takes a data-led role in imagining creative solutions to complex challenges. One of its key focus areas is on data to support the delivery of public services. EFI is currently working with Police Scotland and Public Health Scotland to develop a hub located at the new EFI building based on Lauriston Place in Edinburgh (formerly the old Edinburgh Royal Infirmary). The hub is designed to coordinate and connect local and national responses towards a prevention-centred and public health whole-system approach, across Police Scotland, Public Health Scotland and key partners.

The HUB will form part of a wider public orientated ecosystem at EFI to:

  • influence the design and development of the new EFI Public Service Innovation Lab;
  • situate key police/health/other partner staff within the ‘public service’ wing where the intention is to create centres of gravity around data and complex challenges, underpinned by a focus on building collaborative capacity and capability across the system;
  • establish a bespoke police/health learning network drawing from and including world leading academics from the University of Edinburgh and practice experts; and
  • directly connect in with our sister Hubs, the Usher Institute and Bayes Centre, to harness their data, technology and wider expertise.

DataLoch at the Usher Institute

Building on the theme of public health, colleagues at the Usher Institute, another of the DDI Innovation Hubs are working to tackle the major health and social care challenges the South-East Scotland region is facing. These include an ageing population; increasing numbers of people living with long-term and often multiple conditions; delays in hospital discharge; and ever-increasing costs of medicines. These challenges are shared across the UK, and meeting such challenges requires new innovative solutions.

DataLoch is a secure data service funded under DDI Initiative and developed in partnership by the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian. Further NHS Boards and Local Authorities in South-East Scotland will join the partnership in the future to ensure the benefits of our work extend to the entire region.

DataLoch’s approach is to put data at the centre of responses to health and social care challenges, aiming to improve service delivery through research, innovation, and planning. This will done by:

  • bringing together health and social care data for the South-East Scotland region;
  • working with health and social care service experts to understand and improve this data; and
  • providing safe access to this data for researchers, innovators, and planners.

To support the transparency of DataLoch’s work, people from the local region form a Public Reference Group which provides important insights, advice, and influence on DataLoch’s work. All partner organisations involved in DataLoch have a responsibility to the public in the way health and social care data are found, hosted and used.

Through its investment in the DDI Initiative, the Edinburgh and South East Scotland region is showing how to draw together data scientists and the public sector to understand why, when and how to use data to most effectively design and deliver solutions for local communities.

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