Data-driven approaches to the COVID-19 pandemic range from entirely automated, AI-powered processing to “mundane” uses of digital information and statistics to inform decision-making. The pandemic has accelerated the consideration of a number of priorities in the data and technology space, and these are being reflected in the present data strategies of the UK Government.

This final report is the culmination of a year’s research, comprising: i) interviews focused on the experiences of key stakeholders regarding pandemic data-driven policymaking, technology and public health, and policing and public safety; ii) original quantitative research in the form of public perception surveys; and iii) engagement with children and young people, being one of the underrepresented voices in the public debate on data and COVID-19.

The research has looked at some of the most important legal, ethical, regulatory, and policy challenges that have arisen during the pandemic, presented in the context of the UK Government’s National Data Strategy, which has framed future data policy around the pillars of ‘data foundations’, ‘data skills’, ‘data availability’ and ‘responsibility’.

The findings highlight the central importance of data quality and integrity, robust information governance mechanisms and public transparency for creating an environment where data analysis and sharing can be trusted and accepted in an emergency context.

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