Data for emergencies

The Royal Society commissioned a public dialogue to explore the public’s views on data systems during emergencies and non-emergencies

As evidenced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists and decision-makers benefit from rapid access to high quality data in a fast-changing, emergency environment. Enabling this for future pandemics, and other events which threaten serious damage to human welfare or the environment, will require a robust data infrastructure and a continuous process of public engagement.

Creating resilient and trusted data systems (PDF) sets out five high level recommendations for the UK Government to achieve this. This project, chaired by Professor Chris Dye FRS FMedSci, builds on a public dialogue commissioned by the Royal Society and a workshop held in October 2022, the recommendations call for action on public engagement; data protection; stress testing; standardisation; and trusted research environments.

The Royal Society’s public dialogue on ‘creating resilient and trusted data systems’

The Royal Society commissioned the public facilitation agency Hopkins Van Mil to deliver a public dialogue to explore the public’s views on data systems during emergencies and non-emergencies. The dialogue format was chosen to facilitate an immersive and informed discussion, where a full range of viewpoints could be shared, exploring nuanced views, trade-offs and ‘least-regret’ options. The public dialogue addressed the following questions:

a) Do the current systems in place support a trusted and effective response to emergencies?

b) Have the systems been established in ways that enable them to be used in a trusted way outside of emergencies?

c) Are we any better placed to put in place a data-led response to other emergencies?

There are seven key findings from the dialogue, covering the complexity of emotions, confidence in data protection enforcement, and expectations for emergency preparedness.

Explore the full report of the dialogue (PDF).