The Scottish government, businesses, and academia must start to ask the difficult questions – such as how to use data to create a fairer society and how to ensure ethical issues are addressed – if they want the country to achieve its long-stated aim of becoming the data capital of Europe.
This is one of the key themes to emerge from the first session of the DMA’s Value of Data campaign, which has seen the industry body join forces with the University of Edinburgh in a bid to uncover the true worth of information to business through a series of initiatives.
At the event, held at the Scottish Parliament, Minister for Business, Fair Work & Skills Jamie Hepburn MSP said: “We must ensure we operate in an environment in which we have faith. Rarely a day goes by when we see data in the news.
“But all often, we see data in the news for negative reasons. But we can help change this by bringing the public with us, through getting respect for the safe and ethical use of data.
“Using data ethically isn’t a barrier to using data effectively. It is the only sustainable way of maintaining public trust and secure the benefits of big data.”
A number of MSPs attended, including Green Party co-convenor Patrick Harvie, Conservative shadow digital minister Finlay Carson, and SNP convenor of Digital Participation Cross-Party Group Willie Coffey.
Carson said: “Data is the thing leading the fourth industrial revolution. Scotland has led the other three previously, and there’s no doubt that with quality of data and fintech companies we have, we’re in the position to can take the country forward. And absolutely we can be leaders not just in Europe but across the world.”
Summarising the session, DMA Scotland chair Firas Khnaisser, who is also head of decisioning at Standard Life, said: “Together, we share a belief that data-driven innovation will empower the Scottish economy going forward, and the Scottish government has really put action behind those words.
“What is notable and crucial is that we are trying to sort these challenges to understand the worth of data not just by ourselves but in tandem with other organisations in the public and private sector. This is something we have to do together. We collectively have the ambition of being the data capital of Europe, but we could aim even higher to become world leaders in data ethics and responsible marketing.”
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