RDS hosts first User Forum

More than 150 attendees hear about progress at Research Data Scotland and share their views as users

Yesterday Research Data Scotland hosted its first User Forum when more than 150 guests from academia, education and health agencies, local authorities, charities, data managers and providers attended an online conference to learn of the latest developments at RDS.

Research Data Scotland will provide a new service for accessing public sector data in Scotland. It will offer safe, secure and cost effective access to data for research, innovation and investment by unlocking the value of Scotland's data assets.

Prof Roger Halliday, Chief Statistician, Scottish Government and Interim CEO at Research Data Scotland, provided an overview of RDS and its progress to date ahead of its anticipated launch at the end of September.

He said: "During COVID-19 all government departments have recognised how important collaboration is, particularly when accessing data for the public good and it’s in that spirit of collaboration that RDS was created. It is also important that we understand what our users are seeking from RDS to help them achieve their research goals."

Prof Halliday told the audience that ensuring the public's trust in the new service and that their private data was safe was RDS's primary concern as it seeks to enable data in Scotland to be systematically used to for research that improves public wellbeing and equalities.

He added that RDS was working in a trustworthy way to organise research ready public sector datasets around people, places and businesses, and provide a service for secure and cost effective access to those datasets for research in the public good.

With feedback from the user forum RDS's focus for the remainder of 2021 is drive down the time taken to access data without compromising scrutiny or security, redesigning and simplifying data access for researchers, introducing a new Information Governance approach and developing a framework for the private sector to access public data.

There were lots of questions from attendees and we will share the responses to them shortly.

If you are interested in accessing public sector data, we want to hear from you. You can play a part in making improvements to the RDS user journey, identifying priorities and sharing your ideas for streamlining information governance processes. Email us at ResearchData@gov.scot.