At a glance

September 2019 to April 2020
Project Type: 

Data analytics and algorithms are increasingly being used across public services in the UK to categorise citizens, allocate services, and predict behaviour. This project aims to support the improvement of governance of such analytics and algorithms. 

What are we doing?

The project team will first existing work on algorithms in public services, current responsible research and innovation (RRI) frameworks around algorithms and AI, and emerging literature on public observatories. This review work will be accompanied by a mapping of existing examples of public engagement around the use of algorithms in public services in the UK.

Involve will design and run a stakeholder workshop aiming to reflect on the findings of the review and mapping work, and to explore the value and shape of an institution or observatory of public perspectives about the use of such algorithms. Finally, a blueprint for the observatory of algorithms will be proposed including identifying potential actors and organisations to be involved, developing an organisational design, and proposing methods to be used for continued mapping of public engagement with algorithms in public services, foresight around these approaches, and application of principles and findings.

By achieving these objectives this project will aim to provide the most comprehensive picture yet of citizen responses to the ways in which algorithms are being adopted in and around UK public services, from welfare payments to policing, healthcare and immigration. The key outputs of the ‘Just Public Algorithms’ project will be an academic paper presenting key findings from the review work, mapping and stakeholder workshop on how to govern the use of algorithms in public services, and an accessible briefing note for policy-makers, practitioners and concerned citizens presenting the proposed design for the observatory and exploring how it can improve responsible innovation of these approaches.

This work draws on Involve's recent work with stakeholders on the use of AI in public services as well as recent thinking both by Involve and UEA exploring new forms of public engagement around scientific and technological innovation. 

The project will run September 2019 – April 2020.

Who's involved? 

The project funded by Not Equal EPSRC Network+: Social Justice through the Digital Economy. The project is led by Dr Helen Pallett from the University of East Anglia (UEA), supported by Professor Jason Chilvers (also UEA), and us here at Involve.

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