The Scottish Government's Data Intelligence Network (DIN) is a partnership of expertise from across the public sector in Scotland that aims to identify, prioritise, and develop data and intelligence products to address some of the key challenges relating to Covid-19 and ultimately improve lives and public health outcomes.
As part of the Scottish Government's ongoing commitment to public participation, the DIN established a Communications and Data Ethics working group and included in its remit agreeing an ethical framework for the DIN, developing scrutiny mechanisms and delivering a strategy for engagement and communication.
To help design the engagement strategy, Involve was commissioned by Public Health Scotland (PHS) to work with senior leaders across the DIN to develop a draft engagement plan to present to the wider network. It is the beginning of a journey. Public engagement by the DIN does not take place in a vacuum, and nor, given the issues the pandemic raises, will it solely deal with issues related to data and Covid-19.
The approach taken was to carry out semi-structured interviews with leaders across the DIN in order to identify opportunities for engagement. This was followed by a workshop attended by DIN leaders where those opportunities were prioritised and discussed.
We were able to interview over 20 different members of and contributors to the DIN, and we are grateful to them for making the time to speak with us. The individuals we engaged with, either through the interviews or the workshop were identified by our Steering Group as key to the project or with particular insights to share, based on the breadth of collaborators across the DIN.
With a view to realising the ambition of the DIN to widen and deepen public engagement, our final report set out five outcomes with associated recommendations.
Our recommendations are intended to normalise public engagement which would make involving the public whilst reacting at speed less challenging. We also hope that implementing the recommendations will mean the views of the public can be used to inform the response to any future similar public health emergency.
We continue to work with members of the DIN to identify and develop appropriate public engagement opportunities.