The Centre team started this year working on a range of new and exciting activities and outputs. Here is a summary of the key activities we have done in the last four months and what we are hoping to do next.
The UK Statistics Authority’s strategy, Statistics for the public good, presented the Authority’s ambition “to be recognised world-leaders in the practical application of data ethics for statistics and research, with a centre of excellence to deliver this.” Some of the work we have done since the beginning of 2023 has been to pursue this ambition on the international stage. This has included the following work:
- We worked with Statistics Canada to lead a UNECE data ethics deep-dive into data ethics practices in National Statistical Institutes Conference for European Statisticians (CES). We will be presenting this paper to National Statisticians at a UNECE meeting on data ethics and social acceptability in June that will be chaired by Sir Ian Diamond.
- We have been supporting ONS’s international Development Strategy to develop a package of technical assistance designed to support the development and delivery of data stewardship strategies and assessment tools in our partner countries, taking account of the differing national situations. More information on ONS’s international development work can be found here. More information about the recent international work CADE has done can be found here.
- In April we took part in a panel discussion organised by the OECD on the topic of data ethics from principles to practice at the World Data Forum. A recording of the discussion can be found A recording of the discussion can be found here.
- In May we presented on our work to representatives from National Statistical Institutes from across Africa at a UNECA event on data stewardship.
Our ethics guidance pieces can be found here. We want our ethics guidance to be as useful as possible in addressing the current and emerging needs of the research and statistical community. We plan to produce four guidance pieces this year to further support ethics in statistics and research. If you would like to see practical user guidance on a particular ethics-related topic, then please let us know by filling the Suggest a Guidance Topic form, you can do so by emailing the data ethics team at Data.Ethics@statistics.gov.uk.
Data Ethics Services
We have continued to support the use of the data ethics self-assessment tool across the analytical community. We keep receiving and reviewing self-assessments and researchers receiving feedback within two days on average. The CADE self-assessment tool is used to mobilise the UKSA’s six ethical principles. We have reviewed over 160 projects so far this year.
Following the end of Dame Moira Gibb’s appointment from 2018 to the beginning of 2023, Helen Boaden has been appointed to chair the National Statistician’s Data Ethics Advisory Committee. Helen spent thirty-four years working for the BBC, including as Director of Radio. She has also won several awards for her work, and she joined the board of the UK Statistics Authority in 2019. More about Helen can be found here.
The National Statisticians Data Ethics Advisory Committee (NSDEC) has met twice since the start of the year. The committee has been discussing a number of projects, including how ONS are keeping linked data assets safe and secure and what ONS are doing to ensure statistics have impact with policy makers and other stakeholders. Updates on engagement plans for the 2023, recommendation and updates on estimating ethnicity via admin data and how ONS make data available to researchers through the Digital Economy Act (DEA). The minutes from these meetings can be found here.
In March we held a meeting of the UK Statistics Authority’s Centre for Applied Data Ethics Independent Advisory Committee (CADEAC). The minute from this meeting can be found here. This is an independent committee chaired by Professor David Hand which provide us with strategic advice on the Centre’s activities. The centre presented the exciting growth of the use of the self-assessment tool, with the number of projects seen in 2022 being 35% higher than in 2021. The work strategy for the year was presented, this includes a new version of the self-assessment, due for release later this year. Much of the work in CADE over the next few months will be in refining what the tool does, for whom and how and new guidance pieces.
What’s coming next
So far since the establishment of the CADE 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. The centre will continue presenting at conferences and delivering blog pieces and updates to promote the tools and guidance that is on offer.
The Centre for Applied Data Ethics will continue to work with the ONS international development team and their international partners to identify opportunities to help build statistical capability in partner countries.
Soon we will be releasing our next guidance piece on Ethical Considerations to Support Harmonised Standards. We will also be releasing some new ethics training to support analytical staff in considering the ethics of their statistics and research projects.
Remember, please do get in touch at Data.Ethics@statistics.gov.uk if you are interested in collaborating with us.
We will be publishing more news and updates in the coming months.