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Value of Data: Scottish Parliament Reception

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On 23 April, the DMA hosted a reception in the Scottish Parliament for the Value of Data campaign launched from Scotland.

The event has cross-party sponsorship from Green Party co-convenor Patrick Harvie MSP, Conservative shadow digital minister Finlay Carson MSP—who offered opening and closing remarks at the event—and SNP convenor of Digital Participation Cross-Party Group Willie Coffey MSP.

Demonstrating the understanding that data is one central aspect to the future of the Scottish economy, MSPs from all parties in the Scottish Parliament came to hear about the Value of Data Campaign, including Ruth Maguire MSP, Tom Mason MSP and Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations, Michael Russell MSP among others.

Remarks were also given by the Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, Jamie Hepburn MSP, University of Edinburgh chair of Design Informatics Professor Chris Speed and chair of DMA Scotland (and one of the DataIQ 100 most influential data and analytics practitioners in the UK) Firas Khnaisser.

Speaking at the event, Jamie Hepburn MSP said:

“We must ensure we operate in an environment in which we have faith. Rarely a day goes by when we see data in the news. But all often, we see data in the news for negative reasons. But we can help change this by bringing the public with us, through getting the respect for the safe and ethical use of data.

Using data ethically isn’t a barrier to using data effectively. Indeed, it is a pre-requisite for such. It is the only sustainable way of maintaining public trust as the only way to secure the benefits of big data”.

Following the Minister’s speech, Prof Chris Speed gave a presentation showing the potential data can change societal and business exchanges.

“We have to think in a significant way when we talk about worth. Because attaching money to data just doesn’t work; it’s not as simple as that. So we’ve been asking ourselves a complicated question: ‘if you change the value of data, does it change the values that it represents?’

“If you’re thinking about what the value of data is, just think about the values that matter to you. You like things that are good and fair. You can keep throwing money at it… But you do need to think about its worth if you’re thinking about [data itself] as a currency.

“What we need to do is think about how we can develop distinct patterns of material practice—or doing things—and material cultures that are transformative and lead to development; not merely quantitative growth, which is chiefly economic.”

Guests also had the opportunity to try out a data-driven location-based piece of technology currently in development by the University of Edinburgh.

Support for the Value of Data campaign is strong and all from across business politics and academia are committed to making Scotland not just the data capital of Europe, but a global leader in data ethics.

At the event, Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“Increasingly, people in Scotland and around the world are aware of the powerful role data is playing in all our lives. We need a conversation—a deep conversation—about data ethics as well as the implications, good and bad, of the way that data is being used.”

Finlay Cason MSP commented:

“Data is the thing leading the fourth industrial revolution. Scotland has led the other three previously, and there’s no doubt that with quality of data and fintech companies we have, we’re in the position to can take the country forward. And absolutely we can be leaders not just in Europe but across the world.”

Adding to this, DMA Scotland Chair, Firas Khnaisser said:

“What’s has been really encouraging that we’ve seen that everything that has been talked about today has not been rhetoric about data-driven innovation by the Scottish Parliament and Government. Together, we share a belief that data-driven innovation will empower the Scottish economy going forward, and the Scottish government has really put action behind those words.

“What is notable and crucial is that we are trying to sort these challenges to understand the worth of data not just by ourselves but in tandem with other organisations in the public and private sector. This is something we have to do together, and it’s great to see that everyone is on the same page.”

The DMA will be delivering more Value of Data events over the coming months. Information about how to attend or be part of the campaign will be available from the website.

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