About

What is the Declaration?

The Declaration was co-designed over the 18 months to September 2020 with the generous support and expertise of practitioners from public, private, academic, civil-society and voluntary organisations.

It is made up of 23 principles, although not all of them will apply to every organisation.

It’s aim is to act not only as a statement of intent, but also as a means for developing and maintaining best practice in Greater Manchester.

Because it was created as part of a collaborative and deliberative process, it offers a common vision for what best practice in data for Greater Manchester, and everywhere, should look like. 

Its aim is to act not only as a statement of intent, like the ‘first do no harm’ principle found in medical ethics, but also as a means for developing and maintaining best practice. 

It is, therefore, meant to be practical and pragmatic, as well as living and dynamic, given that the world, just as the world of data, is complex, and data practice is constantly evolving with new challenges and opportunities.

The principles of the Declaration will be ‘made real’ using an implementation framework that helps organisations access resources that will enable them to adopt and maintain best practice. 

A new governance structure will be created to ensure that the Declaration evolves as practice changes in the face of a changing world.

With your help, by 2025, we can make Greater Manchester a place where responsible and intelligent data practice is part of what it means to live and work hee.

Why should we commit to responsible and intelligent data use?

Few could have imagined at the start of the 19th century the advances and disruptions of steam power, and the industrial revolution to come. Equally unpredictable were the innovations at the beginning of the 20th century: powered flight, mass production, telecommunications. 

The first 20 years of the 21st century are revealing yet another revolution – powered by data, and the systems and software that underpin it.

Our ability to create, collect, transmit, analyse and store data about the world and our everyday interactions in it has opened up new possibilities for employment, business and public services, and offers potential solutions to many of the complex problems we face. 

But these opportunities also come with challenges, and risks, that need to be understood and addressed.

We create data as part of our everyday routine, through the devices and services we use – our interactions and behaviours are captured on our commute, shopping trips, and while walking around our towns and cities. 

Data about us is stored, processed and analysed by increasingly advanced and complex techniques: by governments, businesses and academia alike. This can create an environment for automated decision-making that is beneficial, through better, more effective services, but also harmful, through bad design, and embedded biases or assumptions.

Data in itself is an abstraction of the real world. With technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence advancing the ways that it can be used, these techniques become ever-more removed from people, which can lead to a sense of powerlessness in the face of technology and its application. 

The erosion of agency and, by association, trust, through imposed and opaque systems, and the decisions that are made using them, is detrimental to the needs of society, where major social, environmental and economic challenges need to be addressed through individual and collective action, and behaviour change.

It’s vital that we collectively acknowledge our current data environment and work together to understand, and counter, the risks to individual rights, and society as a whole, while also grasping future opportunities, and the wider benefits, that responsible and intelligent data practice can bring.

Greater Manchester was a crucible for new ideas and endeavour at the turn of the 19th century, and now at the beginning of the 21st, the opportunity has arisen to lead the way in progressive, ethical and trustworthy data practice that can help bring about a fair, equitable and more sustainable future.

How can you make sure the work you do with data is responsible and intelligent?

There are three stages for organisations that want to adopt the Declaration and its principles:

  1. Support – individuals and organisations publicly support the principles of the Declaration.
  2. Commit – organisations become official signatories and agree to develop plans to implement policies, structures and processes that cover the principles
  3. Implement – organisations start enacting their plans and share their progress
 
At present we are asking organisations to support the Declaration and its principles, and over the coming months we will be developing the implementation framework and governance structure.
 

Click the button below to get in touch for more information and to find out how you can get involved.