Data for Policy is an independent initiative launched in 2015 at its inaugural conference “Policy-making in the Big Data Era: Opportunities and Challenges” that was hosted by the University of Cambridge. The second conference “Frontiers of Data Science for Government: Ideas, Practices, and Projections” was also held at the same venue with further support from the European Commission in 2016. The series has proven to be a key international discussion forum around the theory and applications of Data Science as relevant to governments and policy research, and supported by a large number of key stakeholders including prestigious academic institutions, government departments, international agencies, non-profit institutions, and businesses.

Editorial for the Policy & Internet (Wiley) special issue with selected papers from the Data for Policy 2015 can be found here.

Some Reflections from the past three Conferences: 

Data for Policy is really important because most of the other conferences in the data science area are very technical. This is the only one where you get to meet policy makers as well and the cross-fertilisation between the two is very important.” Steve Dempsey, Data Science Team Leader, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (2017)

“I think Data for Policy is a great opportunity for different communities working with data to improve policies and services to come together and discuss. It’s very energetic, very active and highly motivating. I really think that the mingling and the networking that I see is excellent.” Barbara Ubaldi, Head of the Digital Government and Open Data Unit, OECD (2017)

Data for Policy is a key part of the discussion we’ve got to have within the country and across government about how we really maximise the opportunities that we can get from this fantastic resource of Big Data that’s now available to us. I find it exciting, stimulating and very optimistic that we’ve managed to bring so many people together. I think it will go from strength to strength.” Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Data Analytics (2017)

“Data for Policy is not only the premiere venue, but the only venue for discussing data and policy together. I think we’re going to look back and we’re going to see the early years of this conference as providing the platform for a broader revolution of not only a new field of study but probably many fields of study. We’ve traditionally walled off data and policy into two separate areas and what this conference is doing is bringing them together.” Nathaniel Raymond, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Harvard University (2017)

“This conference is a great opportunity to bring together people from both the data and the policy communities. As it expands it seems to be getting more international in scope. That opportunity to learn about many of the same tools being applied in a lot of different contexts is exactly why data and data science can be so powerful.” Emily Garin, Data Strategist, UNICEF (2017)

“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 Anthony Finkelstein, Chief Scientific Advisor for National Security to the UK Government (2016)

“Conferences like Data for Policy Conference allow us to bring together the policymakers, the legislators and the technologists so that they can begin to understand the issues that are common between them. The policymakers need to hear what can and cannot be done by the technologists and the technologists need to hear what the concerns of the policymakers are. This is the beginning of the dialogue that really needs to happen between the two camps, so that they don’t find themselves warring with each other, but instead try to cooperate and move together with all reasonable speed to protect both the subjects of Big Data analysis and the ability to use this data to better inform policy and government.” Professor Jim Waldo, Chief Technology Officer, Harvard University (2016)

“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.” David Mair, Head of Unit at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (2016)

“It’s very interesting to see how the same topic ‘the use of data’ can be applied to different grounds of policy making from health to transport, innovation to construction. I think it’s really useful to have conferences like this to be able to show that knowledge and to understand what’s being developed in other areas or other countries and try to keep on pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.” Cristina Rosemberg, Technopolis Group (2016) 

“It is the first time we have managed to get together as a really good group of UK and international experts to talk about not just how to use big data to drive policy but why you should do it and what the pitfalls are…”  Stian Westlake, Executive Director, NESTA (2015)

“From a glance down all of the attendee list, they are most of the key organisations you would expect from this sort of event – right across civil society organisations, academic institutions, and also government institutions…”  Paul Meller, Head of Data Resources, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) (2015)

“It is the first time I have had the opportunity to take part in this type of discussion – getting a sense of where political thinking is and where academic thinking is… Forums like this can provide a degree of thought leadership that is necessary in this area…”  John Sheridan, Head of Legislation Services, UK National Archives (2015)

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Data for Policy is a fully independent not-for-profit initiative relying on funds generated through events and projects. We also welcome donations – so if you like our work and want to support us, please consider donating directly via Bank Transfer to:

Data for Policy
National Westminster Bank (NatWest)
Account Number: 28066901
Sort Code: 56-00-31

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We are grateful to all who support us.

Kind regards,

Data for Policy Team