The Well-Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act (FGA) was implemented in 2015 with the aim to advance social, cultural, environmental and economic well-being through the public sector. As part of this, there is a commitment to embrace and invest in ‘the technologies of the future’ as a way to provide social benefits and mitigate problems. Yet it is still not clear how this commitment will be approached and carried out in order to ensure that important social justice concerns about technology are engaged with and considered in line with the FGA’s Wellbeing Goals. In recent years we have seen a proliferation of innovative initiatives that seek to advance citizen-centred engagement with policy around emerging technologies that provide crucial insights into the possibilities and challenges of advancing civic participation and data justice. In this project, we draw from these insights in order to explore potential policy interventions in relation to the role of technology in the FGA. We do so by focusing on three strategic areas at the intersection of the FGA and data justice: 1) Models of public engagement (e.g citizen juries, task forces); 2) Public procurement processes (e.g. impact assessments, expert consultations); 3) Data governance frameworks (e.g. data trusts, public ownership). Based on document and policy analysis as well as interviews with stakeholders including policy-makers and public sector bodies and a policy-hacking workshop, the project will identify best practices and provide policy recommendations in relation to each of these three areas. The project will be lead by Data Justice Lab Co-Director, Professor Lina Dencik, together with researcher Jessica Brand who both have extensive experience in the area of data policy and social justice and have previously collaborated on research exploring civic participation in the datafied society.
As part of the project, a virtual policy hacking workshop was organised to help inform recommendations based on the research findings. Over forty individuals were invited from Welsh public sector, local and central government and civil society. A briefing document was prepared in advance for all confirmed participants which outlined the project in more detail and highlighted six key findings, with discussion points proposed for each finding for participants to consider during the workshop. The workshop itself began with a project presentation and was divided into three discussions that corresponded with the six discussion points raised in the briefing document. Breakout rooms were used for participants to discuss the points in small groups followed by a group discussion in which participants fed back their comments to each other, moderated by the PI. Members of the Data Justice Lab took notes from all discussions that were then collated and sent out to attending participants as a summary document.