NEWS23 July 2021

Professional standards alliance formed for data science

Data analytics News UK

UK – Organisations including the Royal Statistical Society (RSS), BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and the Alan Turing Institute have launched an alliance to create new professional standards for the data science industry.

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The Alliance for Data Science Professionals will be tasked with ensuring data science’s ethical and governance standards are effective and can maintain public trust, and will seek to create a single, searchable public register of certified data professionals.

Among the issues the alliance will seek to address are data breaches, the misuse of data modelling and bias in artificial intelligence, as well as provide confidence that data is used ethically, stored safely and analysed robustly.

An open-source process will be used to maintain and update the standards, and the standards will be used to accredit data science degrees and data science modules of associated degrees, as well as data science certifications for alliance members.

The new standards are expected in the autumn. Other members of the alliance are the Operational Research Society, the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications, and the National Physical Laboratory, with support from the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society.

The RSS had indicated last year that it would seek to establish professional standards for the data science industry, with support from many of the organisations named in the new alliance.

The alliance is also working to develop draft standards for individuals, standards for universities seeking course accreditation and a certification process to enable both individuals and education providers to gain recognition for their data science skills and knowledge.

Stian Westlake, chief executive of the RSS, said: “Data science can be a powerful tool for businesses and governments. But just like established fields like engineering or medicine, it needs good standards to ensure it is used wisely and well.

“The Alliance will play an important role in setting standards for those working in data science to help organisations make the most of cutting-edge new approaches, and so that we can all have confidence that our data is in good hands.”

Paul Fletcher, chief executive of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, said: “We are excited to be working with our alliance partners to define and manage standards in the burgeoning area of data science.

“The pandemic period has further demonstrated that data science provides significant value in creating insight and improving decision making.”