Executive summary – draft for comment

This is the first draft of the executive summary of the report from the trip, posted here to invite your comment…

Today’s challenges demand the best quality decisions that can be achieved. The growing wealth of available data should be used to improve those decisions. Data are the catalysts in research, engineering and diagnosis. Data fuel analysis to produce key evidence and supply the information for compelling communication. Data connect computational systems and capture the work of large collaborative endeavours.

Data should be used fluently in research, investigation, planning and policy formulation to equip those responsible with the necessary information, knowledge and wisdom. The present cornucopia of data is under-exploited. Effort and resources should be rallied to deliver a data-use initiative that harnesses the potential of data by delivering a new focus and capability.

The data-use initiative will:

  • increase the impact of research on the quality of decisions, by
  • enabling all researchers to analyse an order of magnitude more data without intermediaries
  • with much improved methods to “go the last mile” to achieve influence.

An over-riding requirement is to engage the next generation of talented minds in the creative processes of distilling information from data, establishing knowledge and developing wisdom.

Principles

  • Support for research data should be in harmony with the evolving digital ecosystem.
  • Investment in collecting, preserving or generating data should be balanced with investment in analysing and interpreting data.
  • Facilitate the co-evolution of research practices, new methods and their supporting software.
  • Democratise the means for undertaking research by improving education and access to data, tools and facilities.
  • Align innovation, preservation and support for sustained use.
  • All users of data need to see that resources are neither free nor infinite.

Recommendations

  • Stimulate new thinking in the next generation to drive the international data-use impetus.
  • Invest in creating and sharing methods and software for exploiting data.
  • Increase data and method use by building “intellectual access ramps” and education.
  • Coordinate, improve and sustain the foundations for exploiting data.
  • Align creation of methods, aids to adoption, and provision of sustained infrastructure.

The data-use initiative will require that a greater proportion of research effort and investment is allocated to using data than hitherto. There are already large quantities of under-used data. The available data are growing rapidly through research investment and as the by-product of many other activities. A modest change in relative priorities will yield significant dividends.

Survival in the digital revolution depends on rapid and appropriate adaptation.

There are many global and local challenges that will overwhelm society unless we improve the quality of our decisions. Key to this is making the best use of all available data.

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