Since our last update at the beginning of October, the Centre team have been working on a range of outputs. Here is a summary of some of our key activities in the last two months.
In October, we released our latest ethics guidance focused on ethical considerations in the use of machine learning for research and official statistics. This was accompanied by a guest blog from Tom Smith, Managing Director at the Data Science Campus and member of the Centre for Applied Data Ethics independent Advisory Committee. This guidance was developed as part of an international collaboration within the ONS-UNECE Machine Learning 2021 group portfolio of work.
We have also released an ethics checklist related to the use of third-party data for research and statistics, which provides several questions to consider when using third-party data based around the UK Statistics Authority’s six ethical principles.
If you have any feedback on the current iterations of either of these pieces of guidance, or would like to suggest an ethics guidance topic, then get in touch with the data ethics team.
Centre Advisory Committee
We recently held our October meeting of the UK Statistics Authority’s Centre for Applied Data Ethics independent Advisory Committee (CADEAC), where we discussed our future plans for guidance and international engagement and provided updates on the activities and outputs of the Centre and related ethics services. The minutes for this meeting are available to view on the UK Statistics Authority website and the next meeting will be held in January.
Data ethics services
Since the last update the National Statisticians Data Ethics Advisory Committee (NSDEC) have considered several projects at both the October meeting and via correspondence. This includes the second iteration of the Schools COVID Infection Survey (SIS2) as well as research to support the redevelopment of survey questions to estimate the prevalence of domestic abuse, which will focus on developing and qualitatively testing a new set of questions. Via correspondence, the Committee are considering three related qualitative projects with under-represented communities.
Regarding our ethics support services, further to the last update, a streamlined NSDEC application form is now in use for all submissions to the Committee. The self-assessment iteration has also significantly progressed, with a new version having been drafted. We will be establishing a user consultation this side of the new year, to subsequently release the updated tool in January.
We held our first deep dive meeting with colleagues from six other National Statistical Organisations who share an interest in data ethics. This meeting followed our initial introductory meeting in July and focused on data ethics policies within the national statistical context, sharing experiences and learnings in this area and considering ways in which we can continue to work together in this space. A follow-up meeting is planned for later this month – watch this space to hear about the outputs from these meetings!
Out and about
We have presented our data ethics work to a range of audiences and a full list of presentations can be found on the Publications and Presentations section of our website. Recent highlights include:
- Chairing a panel session on data ethics at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Expert Meeting on Modernising Statistical Legislation.
- Convening a data ethics webinar for the Heads of Profession Group.
- Presenting at the October meeting of the Royal Statistical Society International Development Section.
- Presenting at the Statistics Canada International Methodology Symposium.
- Presenting at the Housemark Ltd 10 Days of Data event: Data for good? Exploring the ethics of data science.
- Presenting our public views and engagement guidance at the Public Attitudes to Data and AI (PADAI) network.
- Presenting our machine learning guidance as part of the ONS-UNECE Machine Learning Group 2021 webinar.
- Presenting our geospatial guidance at the Government Geography Profession 2021 conference.
What’s coming next?
As ever, we will continue building on these activities and outputs over the coming weeks, but will be particularly focusing on:
- We will be presenting a showcase of our work to interested parties at UNECA to identify potential opportunities for collaboration in the area of data ethics.
- We are working on guidance related to ethical considerations in ensuring inclusivity of data for research and statistics. This is being produced as part of the response to the recommendations of the Inclusive Data Taskforce.
- We are currently reflecting on the activities of the Centre in the first year and considering where we will focus our efforts going forward in to 2022.