Recommendations for Data Ethics Capabilities

Councils need to be able to collect, share, analyse and innovate with data in a way that their residents expect of them. To help guide them in the development of their data ethics capabilities, LOTI has developed 16 recommendations. 


LOTI is offering support to any borough interested in piloting any of these recommendations as part of our London Data Ethics Service. Please find more information on the dedicated Resource Page, or contact LOTI Data Ethicist, Sam Nutt, at


Brief explanation of the recommendations and terminology.

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Overview of Recommendations

Summary of LOTI's 16 recommendations.

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Adopt common moral principles that reflect the values of your residents

LOTI suggests adopting five universal principles to guide all decisions about data: Transparency, Accountability, Privacy, Fairness and Safety.

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Incorporate data ethics into a formal policy or data strategy that meaningfully informs the design of data project

LOTI recommends that any policies and strategies are designed to be as practical as possible and that they focus on action.

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Share details of data use publicly and in appropriate language

LOTI recommends that local authorities follow the communication principles set out in the UK Algorithmic Transparency Standard.

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Proactively inform residents when they are subject to complex data processes (e.g. automated decisions, AI-powered robots, surveillance technologies)

LOTI recommends that councils proactively communicate with residents about how decisions are being made with data.

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Develop the data (ethics) literacy of residents

LOTI recommends that information governance (IG) officers, data officers and resident engagement and communication officers develop public campaigns around data.

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Create a data ethics process flow for data projects

LOTI recommends creating a data ethics process flow for data projects.

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Test and implement the appropriate tools for doing data ethics

At the conception and design stage of a project, LOTI recommends using the Open Data Institute’s Data Ethics Canvas or the UK Government Digital Service’s Data Ethics Framework.

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Share ethics assessments and evaluations of data projects to establish common ethics standards across London

LOTI recommends that councils publish any assessments or evaluations of data projects so that other boroughs can see how they have evaluated and mitigated certain risks.

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Establish a data ethics board

A data ethics board can be a powerful governance tool for an organisation as it advises and shapes individual projects and policies based on ethical principles.

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Create simple appeal and recourse mechanisms for residents to challenge data-related decisions

LOTI recommends that, in the design stage of any new data project, data teams consider whether residents will need the right to appeal and recourse.

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Ensure suppliers meet data ethics principles and transparency standards

When procuring technologies or services, boroughs should not only look for the most efficient supplier but also assess which companies or technologies are the most ethical. 

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Data Ethics Training, Learning and Upskilling

LOTI outlines a range of skills that are important in data ethics and suggests courses to help upskill staff.

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Develop an ongoing organisational dialogue and culture around ethics

Organisations should foster data ethics skills in their staff and create an environment where people feel comfortable raising issues around ethics.

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Include responsibility for data ethics in job descriptions or performance indicators.

LOTI recommends including data ethics as a responsibility or task in the job description for all new data jobs.

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Hire a dedicated data ethicist

A data ethicist can lead an organisation’s work on data ethics, providing research expertise on data ethics and raising awareness and space for discussions of ethical issues.

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