Government Data Science Festival 2020

The Government Data Science Festival 2020 was a fully digital event, which brought together the data science community in the UK public sector.

The festival was delivered by the Government Data Science Partnership (GDSP) working together with members of the data science community across government and public sector in the UK.

The theme of the first festival in 2020 was “Enabling the new normal: The role of data science in moving towards a post-COVID world”.

Colleagues across the public sector have worked together during 2020 using data science techniques to support the UK government response to coronavirus (COVID-19). The festival showcased some of this work.

Latest news

7 January 2021

Thanks for attending the Government Data Science Festival.

Hear about what happened at the festival week by:

To access them:

  • register for a Knowledge Hub account using your public sector email address
  • search for the “Government Data Science Festival” group and request to join
  • a moderator will approve your access

If you have any issues accessing the group please email


Click on each strand name for a summary of the sessions.


Data science in transport

Data science in transport brought together data scientists and friends to celebrate work in this sector and inspire one another. This half day session was split into three themes: “Evolution of data science in transport”, “Harnessing big data to understand COVID-19 travelling patterns” and “Data science to enable secure travel in COVID-19 times”.

Data science in local government

This strand focused on how the growth of data science changes the way that local government works, particularly its effort to tackle the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic using data science and analytical techniques to make decisions that impact people’s lives. This strand brought together data science expertise and practitioners across local government to talk and learn from exceptional data science projects ongoing and completed in light of the pandemic.


This strand focused on the exceptional data science work being done to improve the health and well-being of the public and patients. Combining expertise from across data science and epidemiology, the speakers focused on applying these methods to improve public services. This strand celebrated the exceptional data science work that public servants have done in the face of uncertainty and unprecedented challenges.

Data infrastructure and operationalising data science

The talks in this strand were about getting your code ready for production, and then unchaining those experiments and models from your local machines, and putting them to work in the real world.

Trust, confidentiality and transparency

This strand looked at how data science sits within the bounds of effective public service. Confidentiality and transparency are vital to ensuring that the public trust data science techniques, as we improve public services using them. In this session, we explored how we can embed trust within the practice of data science in government.

Machine learning

This strand focused on describing the use of creative and valuable machine learning tools and technologies to exploit the growth and availability of new and existing data sources.

Data science careers

This strand explored the resources and support available to enable government and public sector analysts to plan their careers and build their data science skills at all levels. Session one focused on the Masters in Data Analysis for Government programme, showcasing the work of five graduates of the programme and session two explored the opportunities and support available to build data science skills and careers in the public sector.

Government Data Science Partnership (GDSP)

The Government Data Science Partnership was formed to help the government realise the potential of data science and to support the development of skills and tools across government departments and agencies. Session one focuses on dashboard accessibility, reflecting on accessibility by design. Session two shared the lessons learned from the public sector data science audit, and main actions that will be undertaken as part of the National Data Strategy to improve access to the right skills, tools and data for data science practitioners across the public sector.


This session discussed presentations relating to the use of geospatial data science within government and partner bodies.