Data Scores as Governance

The mass collection and processing of data is becoming an increasingly integral part of governance. Whilst the integration of big data analytics in government practice is taking many forms, the use of data scores and scorecards is a particular emerging practice with significant implications for citizens and our understanding and assessment of ‘good citizenship’. Data scores that combine data from a variety of both online and offline activities are becoming a way to categorize citizens, allocating services, and predicting future behavior. Yet little is known about this practice, with only a few sporadic news reports published intermittently. Focusing largely on local government in the UK with comparative European examples where relevant, this project has provided a comprehensive interrogation of the uses of data-driven citizen scoring in government.

The research was conducted over a one-year period and has been published in a project report. You can download the report as pdf here. Drawing on multiple research methods, including Freedom of Information requests, interviews, and stakeholder workshops, the report details the different ways that data systems are being used in public services. It provides the first comprehensive overview of key developments and outlines concrete examples of how data analytics is implemented and used across different local authorities and partner agencies in the UK, what companies and systems are prominent, and understandings and perspectives about these developments amongst stakeholders and civil society.

The report is complemented by a Data Scores Investigation Tool designed to help map and investigate the uses of data analytics and algorithms in public services in the UK. The tool consists of a collection of documents from different sources that can be searched and mapped according to location, companies and systems, and sector.

Findings from this project were presented on Monday 19th of November, 2018 at Central Hall Westminster.

The project was made possible through a grant from the Open Society Foundations.