Collaborating on Open Data in Scotland

September 28, 2021 by No Comments | Category Data, Digital Scotland

Blog by Martin Macfie, Head of Open Data in the Scottish Government’s, Digital Directorate.

Hi, my name is Martin Macfie and I head up a small team working on Open Data. Our team has two main roles. The first of these is to provide the direction of travel for open data policy in Scotland; the second is the management of an Official Statistics open data publishing platform for Scotland, You may have seen blogs from Shona Nicol’s team on data standards in recent months. Our teams work closely together and there are a lot of overlaps. As such, we wanted to give you a quick update on what we are currently doing on open data.

What we are working on now

• We are taking forward the actions from the Digital Strategy for Scotland, which was launched in March 2021 and builds on from the Open Data Strategy. We have committed to make more of our data available openly, where it adds value, including working to open up more local government and provide public sector data, through a number of collaborations. For example, we have recently set up a Community of Practice on Data Standards and Open Data. The aim of the Community of Practice is for public sector organisations to collaborate to share best practice on our common goals of increasing the adoption of data standards and the publication of open data within the public sector. To find out more and join the community, please take our brief survey and read our privacy statement (about how we use any data you provide). Once we have your details, we will add you to our membership and give you access to the following Teams site:
Data Standards & Open Data Community of Practice

• We are in the process of co-producing the next 4 year-long Open Government Action Plan for Scotland with members of civil society and CoSLA. This consists of a number of commitments spanning across government. Our team is responsible for one of the commitments, which is “Supporting Open Government openness, transparency and empowerment through open data”. We haven’t quite finalised the content of the plan, but we intend to blog again with more information once it has been signed off and gone live. From our perspective, we have very much welcomed the constructive and thoughtful input from our civil society representatives in getting us to this point. has been operational since 2016, and replaced Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics. Over the summer, we have been working with a company called UserVision who have undertaken a TrueIntent User Research survey of to better understand user journeys and satisfaction. The survey is designed to help us better understand the purpose of the site, and whether users are completing tasks successfully on the site. This will help us shape next steps for improvement, as we believe that our platform caters for a very wide range of user needs. Our contractors at UserVision will be presenting their findings to us shortly and we plan to blog about this work in more detail we have had space to consider their findings.

• As Shona has mentioned in a previous blog , we are running a CivTech challenge on using technology to help find public sector data in Scotland. The challenge is moving into the accelerator stage on the 4th October, during which the selected team and Challenge Sponsors will come together to produce a Minimum Viable Product. This product will be essential for the effective use and re-use of public sector data. The overall aim of the challenge is to help people find public sector data using simple search terms without needing to know the specific name of the data, who owns it and where it might be published.

All of the above activities involve positive collaborations between Scottish Government and other organisations. We’d like to thank everyone who is helping us to create and promote the environment for open data use and re-use, which is vital if Scotland is to succeed in its economic, social, and environmental ambitions.

Please feel free to contact or if you would like to find out more about these activities.

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