The Scottish COVID-19 Data and Intelligence Network

by Roger Halliday, Chief Statistician, Scottish Government

For Scotland to continue to develop an approach to minimising the health, social and economic risks from COVID-19, we need robust and responsive evidence to make informed, real-time decisions in relation to the pandemic and to learn as we go.

 

For this reason, we have set-up the Scottish COVID-19 Data and Intelligence Network to build on the existing community of data expertise and make best use of the data already available across Scotland. The network is a partnership of expertise from across Local Authorities, Health Boards, Directors of Public Health, Health and Social Care Partnerships, Public Health Scotland, Scottish Government, academia and other public bodies.

 

The network aims to identify, prioritise, and develop data and intelligence products that address some of the key challenges relating to COVID-19 and ultimately help to improve lives.

 

The network has already delivered:

  • A COVID-19 data research service that provides secure access to data to help provide answers to key analytical and research questions about the nature of spread, risks and effects of COVID-19,
  • A management information system for ‘Test and Protect’, and faster sharing of data on the outcomes from the testing system,
  • The Scottish Government COVID-19 Four Harms Dashboard which brings together data and evidence on the broader impacts of COVID-19,
  • Disease surveillance dashboards to support national and local decision making and to help the public understand and manage risk.

The next steps have been to focus on specific data challenges that include:

  • What data gives an early warning of COVID-19 clusters and helps us to monitor outbreaks?
  • What has been the impact of COVID-19 on health and social care inequalities?
  • What are the geospatial datasets that can underpin our COVID-19 response and how can we safely share this data with those who need it?
  • What are the biggest risk factors for getting and being adversely affected by COVID-19? And how can we use this intelligence to identify and support the most vulnerable people in Scotland?
  • What factors contribute to care home vulnerability?

Throughout, the network will continue to follow the safe and secure arrangements established in Scotland for the use of data to ensure privacy and ethical data use is maintained. This includes ensuring the network’s activity is underpinned by a valid legal basis, using the Public Benefit and Privacy Panels to scrutinise the use of data and working with data infrastructure delivery partners who will have the highest level of UK accreditation standards. We are working to develop approaches to enhancing these processes so they provide the same level of rigour, and enable data sharing to happen faster and more consistently.

 

As Scotland continues to drive down the number of COVID-19 cases and new challenges arise over the longer term, we will continue to develop a sustainable network to meet the public sector’s information needs. I’d welcome any feedback on the products we have developed or new issues that you would like us to address. Similarly, if you are a data owner or have data expertise that you think could be useful, then please get in touch.