Data for Policy 2016 Conference Report

The Data for Policy 2016 conference began with strong support from major institutions such as the University of Cambridge and the European Commission. Building on the success of last year, five major themes formed the basis for discussion throughout the conference: the revolution in government service provision using ‘Big Data’, data collection and its ethical implications, computational methods and technical challenges, methods of data collection and modelling, new and emerging sources of data collection and finally, the application of data to various policy areas both new and old. The conference, which is now in its second year, provided a space for ideas and people to mix and for a healthy discussion to take place which allows academics, policy makers and technical experts to interact with people from beyond their own disciplines.

In the words of Professor Anthony Finkelstein, Chief Scientific Advisor for National Security to the UK government:

“Data for Policy provides a unique opportunity to have a dialogue across many disciplinary boundaries, it’s a forum in which we can ask questions and move collectively towards solutions, we can share methods. I think it’s invaluable.”

Professor Enrico Giovanini from the University of Rome ‘Tor Vergata’ added that conferences like Data for Policy “are very important to share good practices and identify the latest developments.” Meanwhile, David Mair, a Head of Unit at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission appreciated the collaborative aspects of the conference:

“It’s fantastic to come here and take the temperature of what’s going on in this field and hopefully out of this we can begin to look ahead and see where the new connections are going to be made between ideas and data science.”

Attendees came from a wide range of disciplines and institutions, from Professor Andrew Blake of the Alan Turing Institute to Maive Rute, the Deputy Director-General of the Joint Research Centre at the European Commission. This close co-operation of policy makers and data scientists is unique in the UK and indeed, the world. Prestigious institutions such as the United Nations, the Office for National Statistics and the World Bank were represented among the attendees. Special sessions were also organised and held on a separate basis throughout the conference by teams from Technopolis Group, GovLab, Leiden University and the Bank of England. Technopolis Group organised a session chaired by Cristina Rosemberg which discussed the use of ‘Big Data for Science and Innovation Policy’. The presenters for this group discussion were from the National Physical Laboratory, Nesta and Innovate UK. The Bank of England also organised a session, which discussed a number of different topics including the use of big data for systemic risk assessment and the ‘History Dependence in the Housing Market”.

The main sessions which took place throughout the conference were formed through a rigorous peer-review process after a Call for Proposals was issued in March. A large number of submissions were received, of which, only 50% were selected for presentation. The opening plenary session featured talks from number of contributors. In her opening lecture Helen Margetts, director of the Oxford Internet Institute discussed ‘Platform Government and a Data Science for Policy-making’ while Philip Treleaven, Professor of Computing and Director of the Financial Computing Centre at UCL gave a talk entitled ‘Algorithmic Regulation: Using Blockchain smart contract technology to revolutionise Financial Regulation’. The main body of the conference material was formed eighteen regular panels discussing a variety of topics. Dr. Rayid Ghani, Director of Data Science and Public Policy at the University of Chicago gave a lecture entitled ‘Doing practical data science for social good and public policy’. Quentin Palfrey, Executive Director of J-PAL at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a former senior advisor at the White House highlighted the benefits of ‘Big Data’ in reducing poverty and inequality in his talk entitled ‘Translating Rigorous Evidence into Policies that Benefit the Poor’.

“One of the things that’s difficult in determining whether a social programme works is knowing what would have happened if you hadn’t had the intervention,” said Mr Palfrey, “so what we do is take the methods of scientific inquiry that have transformed medical science, such as randomised control trials and we apply them to large-scale social programmes. Conferences like Data for Policy are very helpful tools for increasing the dialogue between the scholarly community and policy makers about what works, about what resources exist to help inform policymaking and also to teach policy makers how to be effective producers and consumers of evidence.”

The conference ended with a closing plenary session which involved a number of different speakers. One such speaker was Barbara Ubaldi from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, whose lecture was entitled ‘A Data-driven Public Sector for Sustainable and Inclusive Governance’.

“I think the biggest challenge in the next five years…is moving from concepts to reality,” said Ms Ubaldi, “this means focusing on implementation – we need to implement these ‘nice’ ideas. This requires greater connectivity between the public and private sectors, as well as academia. Conferences like Data for Policy are good because on the one hand raise awareness and on the other they bring together stakeholders that normally would not interact with one another and they bridge the interactions – like how to make concrete use of data and technology to inform policy issues.”

A number of interesting points emerged over the course of the conference. Maive Rute from the European Commission drew attention to a “growing scepticism among the public towards scientific experts and the reliability of data and science in general in a ‘post fact’ climate” – a broad and cogent argument, especially given recent political developments around the world that have shown a growing unwillingness to heed the advice of experts. Similarly, in his talk entitled ‘Data for Policy: A Myth or a Must?’ Enrico Giovannini claimed that “the value added by statistics depends on their relevance, trust in the media and the consumers’ literacy’ and went on to say, very powerfully, that “data is the lifeblood of democracy.” In his popular and witty presentation, Professor Jim Waldo of Harvard University, highlighted the problem more succinctly when he said “in data science, the science is only as good as the data”. Building on this theme and focusing more on praxis, other speakers such as Sarah Geist of the University of Leiden posed the question: “why don’t computer scientists know how policy works?” and Dr. Rayid Ghani from the University of Chicago spoke for many when he said that “training is needed on both sides – computer scientists and government officials – to use data effectively.”

Alongside the conference a poster competition was also run featuring presentations by students from University College London, Carnegie Mellon University, Birmingham University and many other institutions. The overall winner of the competition, which relied on votes from attendees over the course of the conference, was Maria De-Arteaga from Carnegie Mellon University for her poster entitled ‘Discovery of Complex Anomalous Patterns of Sexual Violence in El Salvador’.

The Data for Policy 2016 conference ran from the 15th – 16th September. The conference took place in the pleasant surroundings of the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory, making use of its modern lecture halls and superb catering facilities – attendees were well taken care of and had many opportunities to mingle informally and share ideas.

The conference also had extensive multimedia services including video platforms and social media such as Twitter. Videos of all the keynote and plenary sessions can be found on the Data for Policy YouTube channel alongside individual interviews with key participants with further information and real-time commentary available on the Data for Policy Twitter account.

Data for Policy Twitter: https://twitter.com/dataforpolicy

Data for Policy website: http://dataforpolicy.org/

Data for Policy YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsJUrj-FJ4qT9eNuTOPyYNQ

 

(Report by Nathaniel Hayward)

Conference Programme Now Available!

Data for Policy 2016 Conference Information Pack & Programme is available here!

Registration is closing on 1st of September – places are offered on a first come, first served basis.

Featured talks include:

  • “Big Data Analytics and EU Policy-making – huge potential, significant challenges” – Maive Rute, Deputy Director-General of Joint Research Centre, European Commission
  • “Data for Policy: a Myth or a Must?” – Enrico Giovannini, Co-Chair, UN Data Revolution Group, University of Rome ‘Tor Vergata’
  • “Big Data and the Social Sciences: Can Accuracy and Privacy Co-Exist?” – Jim Waldo, Gordon McKay Professor of the Practice of Computer Science and the Chief Technology Officer, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University
  • “Platform Government and a Data Science for Policy-making?” – Helen Margetts, Director of the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
  • “Algorithmic Regulation: Using Blockchain smart contract technology to revolutionise Financial Regulation” – Philip Treleaven, Professor of Computing and Director of the Financial Computing Centre, University College London
  • “Translating Rigorous Evidence into Policies that Benefit the Poor” – Quentin Palfrey, Executive Director, J-PAL North America, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • “A Data-driven Public Sector for Sustainable and Inclusive Governance” – Barbara Ubaldi, The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
  • “Doing practical data science for social good and public policy” – Rayid Ghani, Director of the Center for Data Science and Public Policy, University of Chicago

Other key participants include:

Andrew Blake, Executive Director, The Alan Turing Institute
Anthony Finklestein, Chief Scientific Adviser for National Security to HM Government; Professor of Software Systems Engineering, The Alan Turing Institute
Andy Hopper, Head of Department, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge
Jon Crowcroft, Marconi Professor of Communications Systems, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge; The Alan Turing Institute
Sir David Wallace, University of Cambridge
Kenneth Benoit, Head of the Department of Methodology, London School of Economics and Political Sciences
Derek Wyatt, Chair, Royal Trinity Hospice; NHS Innovations South East, UK
Peter Smith, Professor of Social Statistics, ESRC Administrative Data Research Centre for England and University of Southampton
Gabrielle Demange, Directeur d’Etudes at EHESS; Associate Chair, Paris School of Economics, France
Beth Noveck, The Jerry Hultin Global Network Professor, Tandon School of Engineering; Co-Founder and Director of The GovLab, New York University
Michail Skaliotis, Head of Task Force – Big Data at EUROSTAT, European Commission
Daniel Castro, Director, Centre for Data Innovation, US
Jean Bacon, Professor Emerita of Distributed Systems, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge

… and many other prestigious participants.

Limited space left to register!

 

Registration open!

We are pleased to announce that the registration is now open for the Data for Policy 2016 conference. Following the success of our inaugural conference last year, we have received a large number very high quality submissions from academic, government, non-profit and private sector institutions across the globe for this year’s conference. We are also bringing together an exclusive list of expert presentations covering angles from a range of disciplines including Statistics, Computer Science, Economics, Political Science, Psychology, Philosophy, and Law. Data for Policy 2016 is a truly unique international event not to be missed!

Book early to secure a place at the conference!

Featured participants for this year’s conference include:

Professor Jim Waldo, Chief Technology Officer of Harvard University
Professor Enrico Giovannini, Co-Chair, United Nations Data Revolution Group & Uni. of Rome “Tor Vergata”
Ms Maive Rute, Deputy Director-General of European Commission Joint Research Centre
Professor Anthony Finkelstein, Chief Scientific Advisor, UK Government Office for Science
Professor Beth Noveck, Co-Founder and Director of The GovLab, New York University and MIT Media Lab
Professor Helen Margetts, Director of the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
Ms Barbara Ubaldi, Lead for the OECD Digital Government Project
Dr Rayid Ghani, Director of the Center for Data Science and Public Policy, Chief Data Scientist at the Urban Center on Computation and Data, University of Chicago
Mr David Best, Director, Digital Services, Technology and Methodology, Office for National Statistics
Professor Philip Treleaven, Director of the Financial Computing Centre, University College London
Professor Kenneth Benoit, Head of the Department of Methodology, London School of Economics
Professor Rob Procter, Deputy Head of the Department of Computer Science, University of Warwick
Professor John Shawe-Taylor, Head of the Department of Computer Science, University College London
Mr Dan Gaylin, President and Chief Executive Officer, NORC at the University of Chicago
Mr Daniel Castro, Director, Centre for Data Innovation, US
Professor Gabrielle Demange, Paris School of Economics, France
Dr Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, Harvard University
Dr Martijn Poel, Technopolis Group
Drs Gideon Shimshon, Director, Centre for Innovation, Leiden University, Netherlands
Professor John Taysom, University College London, University of Cambridge, Harvard University
Professor Sir David Wallace, University of Cambridge
Professor Derek Wyatt, Chair, Royal Trinity Hospice; NHS Innovations South East, UK
Professor Ralph Schroder, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
Professor Jon Crowcroft, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge

and many other prestigious speakers & participants tbc…

This year’s conference is kindly supported by the following institutions:

  • University of Cambridge – Computer Laboratory & Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP)
  • European Commission
  • The Alan Turing Institute
  • Office for National Statistics
  • Imperial College London – Data Science Institute
  • London School of Economics – Department of Methodology
  • University of Oxford – Oxford Internet Institute
  • University College London – Department of Computer Science & UCL Public Policy
  • Royal Statistical Society
  • London Innovation Society
  • Technopolis Group
  • New York University (NYU) – The Government Lab (GovLab) & Open Governance Research Exchange (OGRX)
  • Leiden University – Centre for Innovation

Registration Deadlines: 

Presenters’ registration deadline: Monday, 1 August 2016
Public registration deadline: Thursday, 1 September 2016 *

* Please note that public registration may be closed earlier if all spaces are filled before the deadline.

Sponsorship and exhibition opportunities are available. If you are interested please get in touch via email – team@dataforpolicy.org

Please click here to complete your registration to secure a place at this prestigious conference. Please also note that access to the conference venues will not be permitted without advance registration.

We look forward to seeing you in Cambridge in September.

Kind regards,

Data for Policy Team

 

Call for Papers, Presentations, Workshops, and Sessions

Submission is now closed! Please watch this space for updates…

Data Science is emerging as a key interdisciplinary research field to address major contemporary challenges across sectors. Particular focus on the government sector offers huge potentials to advance citizen services and collective decision-making processes. To reflect the diversity of skills and knowledge required to tackle challenges in this domain, the conference offers an open discussion forum for all stakeholders. We invite individual and/or group submissions from all relevant disciplines and application domains. Topics covered include but are not limited to the following:

  • Government & Policy: Digital era governance and citizen services, public demand vs. government response, using data in the policy process, open source and open data movements, policy laboratories, citizen expertise for government, public opinion and participation in democratic processes, distributed data bases and data streams, information and evidence in policy context, case studies and best practices.
  • Policy for Data & Management: Data collection, storage, and access; psychology/behaviour of decision; privacy, trust, public rights, free speech, ethics and law; data security/ownership/linkage; provenance, curation, expiration; private/public sector/non-profit collaboration and partnership, etc.
  • Data Analysis: Computational procedures for data collection, storage, and access; large-scale data processing, dealing with biased/imperfect/uncertain data, human interaction with data, statistical/computational models, technical challenges, communicating results, visualisation, etc.
  • Methodologies: Qualitative/quantitative/mixed methods, gaps in theory and practice, secondary data analysis, web scraping, randomised controlled trials, sentiment analysis, Bayesian approaches and graphical models, biologically inspired models, real-time and historical data processing, simulation and modeling, small area estimation, correlation & causality based models, and other relevant methods.
  • Data Sources: Government administrative data, official statistics, commercial and non-profit data, 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.
  • Policy/Application Domains: Security, health, cities, public administration, economy, science and innovation, finance, energy, environment, social policy areas (education, migration, etc.) and other relevant domains.

Extended abstracts for individual submissions should not exceed 1000 words and group/special session submissions are limited to 4500 words (including general session description and abstracts for each of the presentations in the session). Please note that this conference will also mark the launch of the new Data for Policy Discussion Paper Series. All submissions will also be considered for this series and those selected will be invited to submit full discussion papers prior to the conference. Consideration will also be given for other post-conference publications (e.g. special journal issues and policy reports).

Please note that special session proposals can be submitted for research panels, policy workshops, fringe meetings, tutorials, demonstrations, and other innovative formats as relevant to conference audience. Organisations can get in touch with Data for Policy Team (team@dataforpolicy.org) to discuss potential partnership opportunities and/or group discounts.

Please also note that special discounts with conference registration fees will be applied to students and early career researchers. Limited funding is also available to support travel expenses of exceptional candidates. For those wishing to be considered for travel support please send a CV and covering letter to the conference team after completing your submission and before the submission deadline.

PDF version of the Call for Contributions can be downloaded here

All general enquiries about the conference should be directed to the Data for Policy Team at team@dataforpolicy.org

Poster competition – Innovation Awards on Data Science with Policy Implications

London Innovation Society (LIS) in collaboration with Data for Policy 2016 conference will be running its second Innovation Awards event for research students and young researchers. All poster presentations at the conference will be considered for these awards. Shortlisted candidates for this unique competition will have the chance to showcase their research to a select delegation from top international universities, government bodies, non-profit organisations and private businesses. LIS also offers monetary awards to the first three places in the competition.

To enter this poster competition, we invite all researchers working on data science with policy implications to make standard submissions to the conference. Please note that the standard practice will be to consider all submissions for oral presentations first, but if you wish to be considered only for the poster sessions then please indicate this at the top of your submission.

Important Dates:

Abstract submission deadline: Monday, 16 May 2016
Notification of acceptance: Friday, 17 June 2016
Presenters’ registration deadline: Monday, 1 August 2016
Discussion Paper submission deadline: 15 August 2016
Public registration deadline: Thursday, 1 September 2016
Conference: Thursday-Friday, 15-16 September 2016

Data for Policy 2016 Partner Institutions: 

Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge | European Commission | The Alan Turing Institute | Office for National Statistics | Data Science Institute, Imperial College London | Department of Computer Science, University College London | Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford | Department of Methodology, London School of Economics and Political Science | Royal Statistical Society | London Innovation Society | Centre for Science and Policy, University of Cambridge | UCL Public Policy | Technopolis Group