The Administrative Data Research Network was an ESRC-funded project that ran from October 2013 to July 2018. It is currently at the end of its funding cycle and is no longer taking applications. Administrative data research will be taken forward in a new project, which was launched at the end of 2018.

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Changing lives through big data research

The third Talk Big Data panel discussion was a resounding success. It took place on 10 November 2016.

The panel was chaired by Katie McNeill, Functional Director at the UK Data Archive, who moderated the discussions between Sharon Witherspoon, the acting Head of Policy for the Academy of Social Sciences, Patrick Guthrie, Head of Public Service Reform at Essex County council, Stephen Simpkin, Senior Organisational Intelligence Officer at Essex County Council and Professor Mounia Lalmas, Director of Research at Yahoo! London.

Talk Big Data panel

Patrick Guthrie, Essex County Council, Sharon Witherspoon, Academy of Social Sciences,
Katie McNeill, UK Data Archive, Prof. Mounia Lalmas, Yahoo! London and Stephen Simpkin, Essex County Council

The panel had a lively discussion on how big data research, such as administrative data research, can have a real impact on policies, the improvement of public services and customer services. Though the views from business were slightly different than the academic and public sector views, they all agreed that big data research can make a real difference.

They also agreed that there is a responsibility, both among those who collect the data and those who want to use the data for research, to make sure that the data is used ethically - it's not because something is possible that it should actually happen. 

The ADRN tackles this issue by ensuring that ethical review by an established Ethics Board (for instance, at a university) is an essential part of the approvals process. Projects that do not receive favourable ethical review will not be approved by the Panel.

The panel discussed many interesting examples of big data analysis and how it has improved or will improve people's lives. But there is one major hurdle - just because the research happens and the data is analysed, doesn't mean that change will automatically happen as well. Governments, on all levels, from local to county to national, must buy in to the idea and develop evidence-based policies wherever possible.

View the entire panel discussion:

Read the evening's programme

Read our blog

Page last updated: 30/07/2018