Data for Policy 2021

Data for Policy 2021

The sixth International Data for Policy Conference will take place in London on September 14-16, 2021.

The Data for Policy conference series is the premier global forum for multiple disciplinary and cross-sector discussions around the theories, applications and implications of data science innovation in governance and the public sector.

All conference contributions will be considered for peer-reviewed publication in Data & Policy, a Data for Policy – Cambridge University Press collaboration supported by the Alan Turing Institute, Office for National Statistics and UCL.


International Organisation Committee:

Leigh Anderson – University of Washington
Emanuele Baldacci – European Commission
Jon Crowcroft – University of Cambridge, Alan Turing Institute
Zeynep Engin – University College London
Innar Liiv – Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia
Christoph Luetge – Institute of Ethics and AI, ITM, Munchen
H. Scott Matthews – Carnegie Mellon University
Barbara Ubaldi – OECD, Paris
StefaanVerhulst – New York University
Masaru Yarime – Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Advisory Committee:

Jean Bacon – University of Cambridge
Kenneth Benoit – London School of Economics and Political Science
Anil Bharath – Imperial College London
Gabrielle Demange – Paris School of Economics
Anthony Finkelstein – UK Government Office for Science
Rayid Ghani – Carnegie Mellon University
David Hand – Winton Capital Management; Imperial College
Helen Margetts – University of Oxford; The Alan Turing Institute
Beth Noveck – New York University
Alan Penn – University College London
Rob Procter – University of Warwick; The Alan Turing Institute
Peter Smith – University of Southampton
Tom Smith – Office for National Statistics, UK
John Shawe-Taylor – University College London
John Taysom – Privitar
Philip Treleaven– University College London
Dame Alison Wolf – King’s College London
Derek Wyatt – Royal Trinity Hospice; All Party Parliamentary Group on Data Analytics
Milan Vojnovic– London School of Economics and Political Science

Programme Committee:

David Bounie – Telecom ParisTech
Daniel Castro – Centre for Data Innovation
Suleyman Demirsoy – Intel
Jasmine Grimsley – Office for National Statistics, UK
Jose Manuel Magallanes – University of Washington; Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru
Eric T. Meyer – The University of Texas at Austin, University of Oxford
Slava Mikhaylov – Hertie School of Governance, Berlin
Suzy Moat – University of Warwick; The Alan Turing Institute
Mirco Musolesi – University College London; The Alan Turing Institute
Florian Ostmann – The Alan Turing Institute
Martijn Poel – Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the Netherlands
Tobias Preis – University of Warwick; The Alan Turing Institute
Harald Stieber – European Commission
Jatinder Singh – University of Cambridge
Akin Unver – Kadir Has University
Michael Veale – University College London
Andrew Young – New York University
Louisa Zanoun – UK Science and Innovation Network

Data & Policy Journal Manager: 

Andrew Hyde – Cambridge University Press

Data & Data for Policy Community Manager: 

Emily Gardner – University College London

Conference Timeline:


Deadline for Special Track proposals 10 December 2020
Call for Papers & Workshops – announcement 12 January 2021 (provisional)
Extended abstract deadline 25 March 2021 (provisional)
Notification of acceptance 11 June 2021 (provisional)
Registration deadline for presenters 23 July 2021 (provisional)
Discussion paper and video submissions  20 August 2021 (provisional)
Public registration deadline 20 August 2021
Conference 14-16 September 2021



Call for Special Tracks

The International Organisation Committee for the Data for Policy 2021 invites special track proposals at the conference, also leading to the peer-review and potential publication of a Special Collection of articles in Data & Policy (published by CUP) after the conference. Special tracks will draw on and build communities around areas of interest, with a view to continuing in future years.

In association with Cambridge University Press, the Alan Turing Institute and the Office for National Statistics, the sixth edition of the international Data for Policy conferences is scheduled to take place in September 2021. The conference series is the top global forum for multiple disciplinary and cross-sector debate around the theories, applications and the implications of data science innovation in the public sector and governance.

Areas of Interest

Special track proposals are directed to developing conference sessions in one or more of the areas of interest, or in relevant emerging areas.

  • Data-driven Transformations in Policy and Governance – this standard track focuses on the high-level vision for philosophy, ideation, formulation and implementation of new approaches leading to paradigm shifts, innovation and efficiency gains in collective decision making processes. Topics may include:
    • Data-driven innovation in public, private and voluntary sector governance and policy-making at all levels (international; national and local): applications for real-time management, future planning, and rethinking/reframing governance and policy-making in the digital era;
    • Data and evidence-based policy-making;
    • Government-private sector-citizen interactions: data and digital power dynamics, asymmetry of information; democracy, public opinion and deliberation; citizen services;
    • Interactions between human, institutional and algorithmic decision-making processes, psychology and behaviour of decision-making;
    • Global policy-making: global existential debates on utilizing data-driven innovation with impact beyond individual institutions and states;
    • Socio-technical and cyber-physical systems, and their policy and governance implications.

The remaining categories represent more specifically the current applications, methodologies, strategies which underpin the broad aims of Data for Policy’s vision:

  • Data Technologies and Analytics for Policy and Governance – this track is concerned with data in its variety of forms and sources, and infrastructure and methods for its utilisation in policy and governance:
    • Data sources: Personal and proprietary data, administrative data and official statistics, open and public data, organic vs designed data, sensory and mobile data, digital footprints, crowdsourced data, and other relevant data;
    • Technologies: Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Internet of Things, Platform Technologies, Digital Twins, Visualisation and User Interaction Technologies, data and analytics infrastructures, cloud and mobile technologies;
    • Methodologies and Analytics: Mathematical and Statistical models, Computational Statistics, Machine Learning, Edge Analytics, Federated Learning, theory and data-driven knowledge generation, multiple disciplinary methodologies, real-time and historical data processing, geospatial analysis, simulation, gaps in theory and practice.
  • Policy Frameworks, Governance and Management of Data-driven Innovations – this track focusses on governance practices and management issues involved in implementation of data-driven solutions:
    • Data and algorithm design principles and accountability;
    • Local, national and international governance models and frameworks for data and associated technologies;
    • Data and algorithms in the law;
    • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other regulatory frameworks;
    • Data intermediaries, trusts and collaboratives;
    • Meta-data, interoperability and standards;
    • Data ownership, provenance, sharing, supply chains, linkage, curation and expiration;
    • Data sovereignty and data spaces.
  • Ethics, Equity and Trust in Policy Data Interactions – this track examines the issues which must be considered in technology design and assessment.
    • Digital Ethics: Data, algorithms, models and dynamic interactions between them
    • Digital trust, and human-data-machine interactions in policy context
    • Responsible technology design and assessment
    • Privacy and data sharing
    • Digital identification, personhood, and services
    • Uncertainties, bias, and imperfections in data and data-driven systems
    • Algorithmic behaviour: equity and fairness, transparency and explainability, accountability, and interpretability
    • Human-machine collaboration in strategic decision making and algorithm agency
    • Human control, rights, democratic values, and self-determination.

The following are areas which fall within the above categories, but are highlighted as being of special interest:

  • Data to Tackle Global Issues and Dynamic Societal Threats:
    • Human existence and the planet;
    • International collaboration for global risk management and disaster recovery;
    • Global health, emergency response, Covid-19 and pandemics;
    • Sustainable development, climate change and the environment;
    • Humanitarian data science, international migration, gender-based issues and racial justice;
    • International competition and cultures of digital transformation.
  • Algorithmic Governance:
    • Data-driven insights in governance decision making, black-box processing;
    • Algorithm agency along with human and institutional decision-making processes;
    • Government automation: citizen service delivery, supporting civil servants, managing national public records and physical infrastructure, statutes and compliance, and public policy development;
    • Algorithmic ‘good’ governance: participation, consensus orientation, accountability, transparency, responsiveness, effectiveness and efficiency, equity and inclusiveness, and the rule of law.

The interrelatedness of all categories is undeniable, and the categorization above does not indicate siloed activity. It is rather an articulation of the breadth and depth of the vision and mission for improved data-driven decisions and policymaking, which is the ethos of both Data for Policy and Data & Policy.

Instructions for Special Track submissions:

Those interested in organising a Special Track at the Data for Policy 2021 Conference should send a brief description (up to 1000 words) through the conference submission system. If the Special Track is proposed by a group, one person should be identified as the Chair to coordinate with the Data for Policy Team in submissions and the review process.

The Special Track descriptions should cover the following information:

  • The title of the proposed Special Track;
  • An overview of the motivation and topics to be covered;
  • How the collection fits within the scope of the conference themes;
  • Your plans to circulate your Special Track announcement to reach relevant communities and networks;
  • Whether you are interested in editing a Special Collection in Data & Policy, deriving from the Special Track, which will involve guiding submitted articles through the journal’s peer review process, supported by the Data & Policy editorial team and publisher.

The deadline for Special Track Proposals is 10/12/2020. Following review, we will inform Special Track leads and feature successful proposals in the main call for papers for the conference.

Special Track Process

If their proposal is accepted, Special Track Chairs will play an active role in the run up to and during the conference. We expect Special Track Chairs to:

  • Circulate an announcement about their Special Track to their networks, following the Call for Papers sent by the Data for Policy conference team that will ask interested authors to submit extended abstracts;
  • Review the extended abstracts relevant to their Special Tracks for final decision by the International Organisation Committee, who will notify those accepted to present at the conference;
  • Organise the programme for their Special Track at the conference, in conjunction with the conference organisers – which will, for example, involve the grouping of submissions into panels, and organising panel chairs;
  • Report on the success of the track in the form of a Data & Policy blog, and communicate issues or improvements to the organisers after the conference;
  • Make assessments about the potential for publications arising from the Special Track, especially if the Chair wishes to edit a Special Collection in Data & Policy.

Special Collections in Data & Policy

Following the establishment of Data & Policy, we invite Special Track Chairs to become actively involved in the process of editing a Special Collection in the journal related to their track.

This does imply additional work beyond the timeline of the conference, so it is not required, but it is something we encourage in the interest of further disseminating scholarly discussion about data science, governance and the public sector.

Those accepted to present at the conference will be given two complementary options for disseminating their paper and related materials. They will be encouraged to use the Data for Policy community platform on Zenodo (, an open repository, in order to make their conference paper and any related materials – such slides, audio, video, datasets and code – available at the time of the conference. In addition, authors will have the option of submitting their paper to Data & Policy, in order to undergo a peer review process that could potentially lead to formal publication in the journal.

Special Track Chairs wishing to become involved in the editorial process are invited to act as Guest Editors of Special Collections in Data & Policy. This will involve:

  • Short-listing of the Special Track papers to those that form a thematically coherent collection of publications, presenting the key issues;
  • Guiding submitted papers through the journal’s peer review process (inviting reviewers, recommending decisions to the Data & Policy Editors-in-Chief);
  • Writing an editorial to introduce the Special Collection.

Note that the timeline for Special Collections will extend well beyond that of the conference, with submissions and peer review beginning after September 2021 and continuing through 2022. All submitted articles will be peer-reviewed independently, and accepted or rejected on their own merits according to the journal’s process.

Data & Policy is a collaborative effort to produce for this community a peer-reviewed and authoritative resource about the potential and implications of data science for governance, and Special Track Chairs interested in editing Special Collections will receive plenty of support from both the Data & Policy editorial team, the Data for Policy Community Manager and the journal’s publisher, Cambridge University Press.



The Data for Policy 2021 Conference will be hosted by University College London.

University College London
Wilkins Building
Gower St, Bloomsbury,
London WC1E 6BT

UCL is London’s leading multidisciplinary university. Founded in 1826 in the heart of London, UCL was the first university in England to welcome students of any religion and the first to welcome women on equal terms with men.

UCL operates in a global context and is committed to excellence, innovation and the
promotion of global understanding in all of its activities: research, teaching, learning, enterprise and community engagement. Its distinctive approach seeks to inspire its community of staff, students and partners to transform how the world is understood, how knowledge is created and shared and the way that global problems are solved.


UCL is located in the Bloomsbury district at the very centre of London.

Bus: UCL’s Gower Street site is served by many Transport for London bus routes. Buses travelling from north to south stop in Gower Street, immediately outside UCL’s main gate, while those travelling from south to north stop outside Warren Street station, about five minutes’ walk from UCL. Services to these stops include route numbers: 10, 14, 24, 29, 73, 134, 390

London Underground: The closest tube stations to UCL’s Gower Street site are Euston Square (Hammersmith and City, Metropolitan and Circle lines), Warren Street (Northern and Victoria lines), Euston (Northern and Victoria lines) and Russell Square (Piccadilly line)

Rail Overground: London has many mainline rail stations. Most of these are a short journey away from UCL, with the stations at Euston, King’s Cross and St Pancras being within easy walking distance. Trains from London serve destinations across the UK.


Delegates are responsible for securing their own accommodation whilst in London. There are numerous hotels and other accommodation options within walking distance of the Conference Centre.


For all questions related to Special Tracks at the conference, please contact; and for questions relating to Special Collections in Data & Policy, please contact

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