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Data (Science) is everywhere and for everyone – but only if we are professional

Thursday, July 13, 2023 - 18:00 to 19:00
Berrill Lecture Theatre, Walton Hall, Open University, MK6 7AA

These days, our personal data is in the public domain, which has led to concerns about its use and has led to the emergence of standards for Data Scientists.

In her inaugural lecture, Rachel Hilliam, Professor of Statistics in the OU’s Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, will explore the role played by Data Science in ensuring that data is being used ethically, stored safely and analysed robustly.


In a world awash with data, who do we trust to collect, store and analyse our data? The last decade has seen the emergence of the Data Scientist, but what is Data Science? This lecture will explore the rise of Data Science and how this has influenced Professor Hilliam’s career. It will explore the question of whether Data Science is a new profession or just Statistics with a fancy title.

One recent development is the Alliance for Data Science Professionals, which was created in 2020 to shape professional standards within Data Science. It was argued that such standards were needed to ensure an ethical and well-governed approach within Data Science, so the public, organisations and governments can have confidence in how their data are used. The Alliance includes The British Computer Society (BCS), The Operational Research (OR) Society, Institute of Mathematics & its Applications (IMA), The National Physical Laboratory (NPL), Royal Statistical Society (RSS) and The Alan Turing Institute (ATI). The work quickly gained support from Government, where it is referenced in the National Data Strategy.

The lecture will explore why these standards in Data Science are necessary to address current issues, such as data breaches, data misuse in modelling and bias in artificial intelligence. We will outline the progress which the Alliance has made in collaboration with volunteers and stakeholders to develop a certification process and create a searchable public register of certified Data Science professionals.

Data is constantly being collected on virtually every aspect of our lives. If we are to live in a data driven society, with true evidence-based decision making we need to have a shared understanding of not just how that data is used but also understand the limitations of the data. Only when we work together in an interdisciplinary way, with a collective understanding of the problems associated with such large and diverse data sets, can we provide people with the confidence that their data is being used ethically, stored safely, and analysed robustly.

Read more about Professor Rachel Hilliam



Watch the webinar online

Please take the opportunity to have your questions answered by our speakers LIVE during the event:

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Event Programme

Timings Item
17:00 Registration opens, coffee and tea available on arrival
18:00 Inaugural lecture: Data (Science) is everywhere and for everyone – but only if we are professional
18:40 Q&A
19:00 Reception