Data scientists and key policymakers discuss data-driven governance

6-7 September 2017 – London– With the increasing role of data and algorithms in policy making, leading data experts and international policy makers met to debate and exchange ideas about data-driven governance in a two-day international conference at Westminster Conference Centre (1VS) in London.

This year’s conference highlighted “Government by Algorithm?” as its main theme, hosting a number of presentations on data-driven government and algorithmic decision-making with wide-ranging implications for issues from health and crime prevention, to crisis management and childcare.

Welcoming over 200 attendees from many different countries, the UK Chief Scientific Adviser for National Security, Anthony Finkelstein, introduced the opening session which focused on data and the transformation of policy making.  Presenters included:

  • Mariana Kotzeva, Acting Director General of Eurostat, the European Commission
  • Heather Savory, Director General Data Capability at the Office for National Statistics
  • Daniel Zeichner, Member of Parliament for Cambridge and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary group on Data Analytics

Data for Policy founder Dr Zeynep Engin said “Data for Policy brings together data experts from across academia, the public sector and industry, to influence and shape the course of the data revolution. We are now in our third year and I am truly humbled by the overwhelming interest and support from across the world with submissions from 35 countries and a diverse mix of speakers. We have an exciting programme ahead under the theme of ‘Government by Algorithm’ and I look forward to continuing this work afterwards.”

The conference provided a unique opportunity for networking as the leading international scholars, policy makers, international institutions and private sector organisations from all over the world participated.

The Data for Policy 2017 conference was the third in a series of prestigious annual international conferences exploring the theories and applications of data science for government policy and research. Following the success of the previous conferences at the University of Cambridge, the UK Government Data Science Partnership (Go-Science, GDS, ONS)  hosted this year’s conference at the Westminster Conference Centre.


The full programme is available here

Conference programme now available

This year’s conference highlights “Government by Algorithm?” as its main theme, hosting a number of presentations on data-driven government and algorithmic decision-making with implementations ranging from health and crime prevention to crisis management and childcare. The conference, therefore, provides a unique opportunity for networking as the leading international scholars, policy makers, international institutions and private sector organisations from all over the world are participating. Data for Policy 2017 is a truly unique international event not to be missed.

Full conference programme available here


Featured participants include:

Stephen Aldridge CB – Director for Analysis and Data, Department for Communities and Local Government, UK Government
Emanuele Baldacci, Director of Methodology, IT and Corporate Statistical Services, Eurostat
Kenneth Benoit – Head of Department of Methodology, London School of Economics and Political Science
Jon Crowcroft – Marconi Professor  of Computer Systems, University of Cambridge; The Alan Turing Institute
Maria Fasli, Director of the Institute of Analytics and Data Science, University of Essex
Anthony Finklestein – Chief Scientific Advisor for National Security, HM Government
David Hand – Chief Scientific Advisor, Winton Capital Management; Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, Imperial College London
Mariana Kotzeva – Acting Director General of Eurostat, European Commission
Helen Margetts – Director of the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford; The Alan Turing Institute
H. Scott Matthews – Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering & Public Policy,Carnegie Mellon University
Chi Onwurah MP – Member of Parliament for Newcastle upon Tyne Central, Labour Party; Co-chair All Party Parliamentary Group on Finance and Technology
Heather Savory – Director General for Data Capability, Office for National Statistics
Peter Smith – Director of the UK Administrative Data Research Network, University of Southampton
Tom Smith – Managing Director of the Data Science Campus, Office for National Statistics
Philip Treleaven – Director of the UK Financial Computing Centre, University College London
Barbara Ubaldi – Head of the Digital Government and Open Data Unit, OECD
Stefaan Verhulst – Co-Founder of the Government Laboratory (GovLab), New York University
Derek Wyatt – Chairman, Foundation for Information Society Policy
Daniel Zeichner MP – Member of Parliament for Cambridge, Labour Party; Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group on Data Analytics


  • “Government Statistical Services in the Data Analytics age” – Plenary Speech by Mariana Kotzeva, Acting Director General of Eurostat, European Commission
  • “Better Data for Better Policy” – Plenary Speech by Heather Savory, Director General for Data Capability, Office for National Statistics
  • “(Private) Data for (Public) Policy” – Keynote Lecture by Stefaan Verhulst– Co-Founder of the Government Laboratory (GovLab), New York University
  • “Algorithmic Government: Automating public services and supporting civil servants in using Data Science technologies” – Keynote Lecture by Philip Treleaven– Director of the UK Financial Computing Centre, University College London 

Special sessions include:

  • “Building a whole system approach to data capability – collaborative data use and storage in local government as a way to improve service delivery” – organised by Essex County Council
  • “Interpreting the Geneva Conventions in the Age of Cyber Warfare: Critical Challenges in Applying International Humanitarian Law to the Use of Data in the Context of Modern Armed Conflict” – organised by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative at Harvard University
  • “Infrastructure to support access to data for research” – organised by the Administrative Data Research Network (ADRN)
  • Special session organised by the Government Digital Service (GDS)
  • Special session organised by the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

Organisations represented include: 

European Commission | University of Cambridge | New York University | The Alan Turing Institute |  Harvard University | Jawharlal Nehru University, India | Tel Aviv University, Israel | Stanford University | UNICEF | Greater London Authority | Open Data Institute | Tallinn University, Finland | Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, UK| University of Washington | Ministry of Justice, UK | Nesta | Royal Statistical Society | University of Queensland, Australia | KU Leuven, Belgium | Eurostat | The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) | Department for Communities and Local Government, UK | UN Global Pulse | University of Zurich, Switzerland | Imperial College London | Vodafone | Bank of England | Cancer Research UK | Benefacts, Ireland | Metropolitan Police Service, UK | PricewaterhouseCoopers, UK | Carnegie Mellon University | Essex County Council | Administrative Data Research Network (ADRN) | Cambridge University Press | Hebrew University, Israel | Sage Publications | University of Essex | Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia | All Party Parliamentary Group on Data Analytics (APGDA), UK | Data-Pop Alliance | J-PAL North America |  IP Australia | University of Oxford | Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand | University of Dublin, Ireland | Leiden University, Netherlands | Australian National University | Bocconi University, Italy | Nova School of Business and Economics, Portugal | GlassAI | Intel | The Local Data Company | French Biodiversity Agency | Social Coin | Pulse Lab Jakarta, Indonesia | CognitionX |  Ordnance Survey, UK | National Archives, UK | University of Southern California, USA | University College London

Sponsorship and exhibition opportunities are still available if you are interested please get in touch via email –

Call for Demonstrations

Deadline expired for demo submissions.

Running for its third year, Data for Policy conference series has proven to be a leading international discussion forum around the theory and applications of Data Science as relevant to governments and policy research. The 2017 conference introduces a special Demonstration Track alongside the poster sessions to provide a showcasing opportunity for new tools, technological advances, and services offered in this emerging field. The conference committees would particularly welcome policy relevant demonstrations from the following communities:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Internet of Things
  • Big Data Analytics
  • Blockchain Technologies

The contributions must demonstrate state of the art technology and must be run live, preferably with some interactive parts. The submission deadline for this special track has been extended to Friday, 7th July. There will also be an associated special industry panel at the main conference proceedings.

The Demonstration Track is chaired by Prof Jon Crowcroft from Computer Laboratory of the University of Cambridge, and supported by CognitionX.

Demo Submissions: Up to 1000 word description should be submitted including the following main sections:

  • The technology demonstrated
  • The elements of novelty
  • The live action part
  • The interactive part
  • The equipment brought by the demonstrators
  • The equipment required from the track organisers

Call for Papers, Presentations, Workshops, and Sessions

Abstract deadline expired for individual and session submissions.

Governments are being transformed under the impact of the digital revolution, although the speed of change is behind that of the commercial sector. Policy-makers in all domains are facing increasing pressures to interact with citizens more efficiently, and make better decisions in the light of data flooding in all forms, sophisticated computing technologies, and analytics methods.  The hierarchical structures of governments are also being challenged as these technologies equip individuals and informal networks with the necessary tools to better participate in public decision making processes, and have a societal impact at a much faster pace than ever before.  The concepts and tools from artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), and now blockchain technologies are also likely to automate many services in the public sector, greatly increasing its efficiency but at the cost of potentially millions of jobs. ‘Smartification’ of people, devices, institutions, cities, and governments also brings constant, ubiquitous surveillance which, together with inference and recognition technologies, creates the potential to regulate human behaviour and may even threaten democracy.

The third of the Data for Policy conference series highlights ‘Government by Algorithm?’ as its main theme, while also welcoming contributions from the broader Data Science and Policy discussions. All relevant formats including research and policy presentations, workshops, fringe events and other innovative formats will be considered by the committees.

Topics invited include but are not limited to the following:

  • Government & Policy: Digital era governance and democracy, data-driven service delivery in central and local government, algorithmic governance/regulation, open source and open data movements, sharing economy, digital public, multinational companies (Google, Amazon, Uber, etc.) and privatization of public services, public opinion and participation in democratic processes, data literacy, policy laboratories, case studies and best practices.
  • Policy for Data & Management: Data governance; data collection, storage, curation, and access; distributed databases and data streams, psychology and behaviour of decision; data security, ownership, linkage; data provenance and expiration; private/public sector/non-profit collaboration and partnership; capacity-building and knowledge sharing within government; institutional forms and regulatory tools for data governance.
  • Data Sources: Open, commercial, personal, proprietary sources; administrative data, official statistics, user-generated web content (blogs, wikis, discussion forums, posts, chats, tweets, podcasting, pins, digital images, video, audio files, advertisements, etc.), search engine data, data gathered by connected people and devices (e.g. wearable technology, mobile devices, Internet of Things), tracking data (including GPS/geolocation data, traffic and other transport sensor data, CCTV images etc.,), satellite and aerial imagery, and other relevant data sources.
  • Data Analysis: Computational procedures for data collection, storage, and access; large-scale data processing, real-time and historical data analysis, spatial and temporal analysis, forecasting and nowcasting, dealing with biased/imperfect/missing/uncertain data, human interaction with data, statistical and computational models, networks & clustering, dealing with concept drift and dataset shift, other technical challenges, communicating results, visualisation, and other relevant analysis topics.
  • Methodologies: Qualitative/quantitative/mixed methods, secondary data analysis, web mining, predictive models, randomised controlled trials, sentiment analysis, Blockchain distributed ledger and smart contract technologies, machine learning, Bayesian approaches and graphical models, biologically inspired models, simulation and modeling, small area estimation, correlation & causality based models, gaps in theory and practice, other relevant methods.
  • Policy/Application Domains: Public administration, cities and urban analytics, policing and security, health, economy, finance, taxation, law, science and innovation, energy, environment, social policy areas (education, migration, etc.), humanitarian and development policy, crisis response, public engagement and other relevant domains.
  • Citizen Empowerment: Online platforms and communities, crowdsourcing, citizen science, community driven research, citizen expertise for local & central decision-making, mobile applications, user communities, other relevant topics.
  • Ethics, privacy, security: Data and algorithms in the law; licensing and ownership; using personal or proprietary data; transparency, accountability, participation in data processing; discrimination- and fairness-aware data mining and machine learning; privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs) in the public sector; public rights, free speech, dialogue and trust.

Important Dates:

Abstract submission deadline: Monday, 8 May
Notification of acceptance: Wednesday, 14 June
Demo proposals deadline: Friday, 30 June
Presenters’ registration deadline: Tuesday, 1 August
Discussion Paper submission deadline: Friday, 18 August
Public registration deadline: Friday, 25 August
Conference: Wednesday-Thursday, 6-7 September