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Shaping our services

Learn how we're bringing improvements to data systems across Scotland.

Shaping Our Services Framed Light Blue

Developing our digital services

Central to our mission is simplifying and speeding up access to public sector data. This is focused on the delivery of a new Researcher Access Service, which will, for the first time, offer a digital end-to-end journey to streamline and enhance applications and approvals processes.

It’s well documented that access to data, in areas like health, education, child protection, and justice, is fragmented. From a researcher’s perspective, even straightforward requests are not simple, involving multiple websites and convoluted processes. From an internal perspective, administration tools are limited and there is no effective means to track and monitor applications.

The first step towards transforming this process was for our Digital team to work with an external digital agency to develop new content and tools - relaunching the RDS website in May 2023. The new website has user-centred design at its core, which is a key principle for developing the Researcher Access Service.

Laying the foundation with a technical appraisal to ensure the right design and building the Service specifically around the needs of researchers and data users has been a major focus. The Digital team have worked intensively to build a working first version of the Researcher Access Service in a matter of months. This is a shared service with the eDRIS team, and its development has been highly collaborative with eDRIS colleagues embedded in the delivery team.

We have also engaged with the research community to shape the service, including carrying out usability testing with researchers to help us ensure it meets their needs.

The first release of the Researcher Access Service speeds up access to nine of the most widely used health datasets from Public Health Scotland, including hospital admissions, prescribing, emergency attendances and births. These curated, research-ready datasets will have a simplified approval process making the journey to access public sector data faster while still maintaining high standards of data security.

We received 17 applications for our Accelerator Awards – a brand new grant fund to support research projects to bring the Service to life. The successful applicants will be among the first to use the Researcher Access Service, and we hope that they will become key advocates for data access improvements in Scotland.

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Ensuring a public voice in data research

Our public panel helps to inform research and the use of administrative data in Scotland. Discover some of the topics covered by the panel and why it is vital to our work in this blog by Katie Oldfield, Public Engagement Manager.

Katie Oldfield

22 Feb 2024

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