Declaration for responsible and intelligent data use

GMCA and Manchester Digital Support Declaration

The Declaration for Responsible and Intelligent Data Practice asks Organisations to Pledge to ‘Do Data Better’ for Local People by 2025

Local government and business leaders have come together today behind the idea that we can and must do data better – by pledging their support for the Declaration for Responsible and Intelligent Data Practice.

Co-designed by Open Data Manchester (ODM) with expert practitioners from public, private, academic, civil-society and voluntary organisations, the Declaration seeks to differentiate ‘the good’ from ‘the bad’ among those that use data.

Its 23 principles, grouped under eight themes, outline the latest, and best, thinking for those that create, collect, analyse and store data, and those that design and buy the systems that manage it.

The ‘respect for all’ principles, for example, have been created to ensure that issues like those seen with the UK government’s exam results algorithm would be avoided in Greater Manchester (GM).

Launching with the support of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), along with tech trade body Manchester Digital, this represents public and private-sector commitment to ensuring that decisions made about data in GM are made in the interests of the public, workers and the planet.

Councillor Sean Fielding, GMCA Lead for Employment, Skills and Digital, said:

“For Greater Manchester to achieve its digital ambitions we need the whole ecosystem to pull together and it’s fantastic to see collaboration of this kind informing how we ‘do data better’ across the region. It’s vital that our people have absolute confidence in what’s happening to their information and that our professionals use data responsibly and effectively to improve decision-making, supporting those most in need. The commitments made in this declaration will help us create a digital city region for everyone. A region that takes an approach to digital that ensures no one gets left behind.”

Katie Gallagher, Managing Director of Manchester Digital, said:

“This is a pioneering piece of work that puts the region at the forefront of responsible data use. Adopting these principles will further enhance and differentiate the region’s reputation for being a leading technology hub. Manchester Digital is delighted to support this work and we look forward to working with Open Data Manchester to encourage businesses to adopt the declaration in the coming months.”

Chair of the Greater Manchester Information Board, Roger Prudham, said:

“Almost from its inception, Manchester has been a crucible of technological, political, scientific and cultural innovation. We have a clear intention to maintain that tradition as another revolution sweeps over our city. The establishment of the Greater Manchester Information Board is a key part of how we embrace this change. The board has sought to be as inclusive as possible both with citizens and experts as we determine a strategy that will drive and facilitate change to our mutual benefit. The intention is that digital innovation will accelerate improvement in the quality of life for all citizens of Greater Manchester. The principles set out in the declaration provide a framework that complements our work both practically and ethically to achieve this.”

Phillipa Nazari, Assistant Director of Information Governance and Data Protection Officer, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, said:

“The Declaration recognises that individual rights and freedoms are at the core of achieving the public good. That is why we continue to remain committed to ensuring that information and data can be processed legally, ethically and safely to deliver Greater Manchester’s ambitions.”

After 18 months in development, ODM is initially asking organisations to support the Declaration and its principles. Over the coming months, it will collaboratively develop an implementation framework and governance structure. Then, official signatories will make sure that each principle can happen in practice – and get on track to being responsible and intelligent data practitioners by 2025.

“Recently we’ve seen how bad uses of data and algorithms can have a detrimental effect on people’s lives”, ODM’s CEO Julian Tait acknowledges. “Greater Manchester regularly highlights the leading role it played during the industrial revolution – now Open Data Manchester and its supporters are asking organisations to help the region become a world leader in this next century. We know it will be powered by data, but now is the opportunity to make sure we lead the world in being responsible and intelligent  with that data.”

The UK government has this month launched a consultation on a new National Data Strategy, which has responsible data use as one of its themes. After political leaders failed this summer to properly consider the implications of using a data model to predict young people’s exam grades, it is clear that all organisations must be considering what is right when it comes to their data use. The government’s consultation closes in December and the results will be shared next year.

In the meantime, we ask that local organisations find out more about the Declaration, which has responsible and intelligent data practice as its core concern and overarching goal, and pledge their support here.

To explore this issue further Open Data Manchester is launching a series of events called ‘Demistifying the Algorithm’, including one called ‘Policy, Politics and the Algorithm’. People can sign up to our newsletter to hear when the first one will be.