Horizon Scanning - Publishing our work

Today we published a number of papers from the first year of the horizon scanning programme, including papers on the supply and demand of resources, emerging economies, emerging technologies and social attitudes of young people.

The papers show the range of the work the programme covered last year, in content and style; from an in-depth report to short analytical papers of current trends and data.

Last year, these papers which were produced by cross-government communities of interest, and in consultation with external experts, were presented to the Cabinet Secretary’s advisory group on horizon scanning. The group discussed the key observations and implications, and a variety of next steps were agreed, or in some cases where it was agreed that no further action was required, work in these areas ceased.

As you can imagine, there are a lot of sensitive issues set out in these papers, and that’s why we have not included the policy recommendations in the published papers. There are also some papers that were predominantly policy implications focused, and some papers that were overwhelmingly sensitive, and therefore they are not published in this batch.

Having an impact

Making sure that this kind of analysis has impact on policy is one of the programme’s most important tasks. Where work continued, it was predominantly taken forward outside the Horizon Scanning Programme by departments or groups of departments working together.

For example, based on the analysis in the ‘Emerging Technologies: Big Data’ paper, the cross-government Data Science Programme was established to catalyse greater use of leading edge analytical techniques in government. The team has developed a number of prototype projects that are starting to demonstrate the value and potential impact of data science. The team is trialling an internal development programme for our analysts, looking at partnerships with academia and starting to bring in external talent as a way of building up our capability. Work is underway on resolving issues around data standards and technology and the team is developing a framework to help departments make sure that their projects are ethical and appropriate.

The findings of the ‘Social Attitudes of Young People’ have been shared widely across government, strengthening our understanding of the nature of social change and informing policy development. The Cabinet Office's Youth Policy team and Policy Lab have brought together young people and high potential civil servants for a series of open policy making workshops to explore the potential policy implications.

Based on the observations set out in the ‘Resource Demand and Supply: Resource Nationalism’ paper, a Civil Service Quarterly article on the topic was published to promote the issues identified in the horizon scanning work to a much wider audience. As a result of this horizon scanning analysis, the ‘Strategic Resources and Risks’ group was established this year to improve the way in which the UK Government can be better prepared on the challenges and risks face on issues such as the nexus between food, water and energy.

What's next?

The Horizon Scanning Programme Team is now working on its second year of projects, as well as exploring other areas of potential horizon scanning analysis with external experts. We would like to hear from you about what areas you think are worthwhile looking at as well as ideas about how we can involve our stakeholders better. Please leave a comment under this blog post with your thoughts, or contact me by email.

1 comment

  1. Comment by simonfj posted on

    Sawadee pi (Happy New year in Thai) Farah,

    Some interesting stuff in those reports. The one thing I find most interesting (as always) is your comment about "how we can involve our stakeholders better". It's my main interest as OPMers get their heads around building their communities of interest.

    One idea which rang a big bell was in Page 74. "The socialization of values".

    The comment on the next page about "claims that immersion in online ‘virtual communities’ have replaced local communities do not appear to apply to most young people", seemed a bit strange in light of the evidence that younger people are more likely to "talk" online than F2F. Obviously the online comms is not a replacement for local. It's just a way of complementing the Local (echo chambers) with National & Global perspectives.

    That's hard because people like yourself are doing much the same investigations into a topic, in each GOV.XX, in isolation. Euro researchers attempt to do the same. Seems like every uni has had an attempt at building the "Participatory Research Platform."

    We're getting closer (now) to gov researchers abiding by the principles of open research. HTML not PDF. Aggregate the Research Library around the Group, not the institution. Reach out to experts and involve them in the (shared) learning journey. This is the EU latest attempt.

    So you can see this outreach always works, from the perspective of people expecting their URL (Like GOV.UK) to be the centre of the universe. They can't see that they need to point to the same (shared) groups space on each institution's web page.

    So it's good to see you've set your Group's space up.

    The list is still pretty messy, but that's to be expected. It's such a change moving the institutional/departmental library and comms hub into one that revolves around inter-institutional groups like yours. A Copernican revolution for some.

    2015 should be an interesting one as we begin to institute the change in perspective. Thankfully UK institutional culture can handle any of these kind of revolutions in perspective, without being too revolting 🙂
    A Happy & Peaceful New Year.


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