Belfast City Council’s City Innovation Office has been working with the Administrative Data Research Centre Northern Ireland (ADRC NI) to establish Northern Ireland’s first public data panel. 

The panel will work with members of the public to consider how data can be used to support research, innovation and decision-making in Northern Ireland.  

It will be a forum for people to consider the socially acceptable re-use of public data and examine questions regarding research, legislation and privacy. In particular, it will look at how health data can be reused to enhance diagnostics, therapeutics, and research. 

Building a supportive data environment is essential to generating innovative solutions to Belfast’s urban and economic challenges. And it is a key component of our Smart Belfast programme. 

Councillor Emmet McDonough-Brown, Chair of Belfast City Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee said: 

“Having better access to data is ever more important for decision-makers in a complex world. It’s key to creating effective solutions to some of society’s most difficult challenges. And, of course, it’s important that people are confident about how data is gathered and used for these purposes. We therefore welcome involvement in the Northern Ireland Public Data Panel and its role in building public awareness, understanding and engagement in the use of data for innovation and public benefit. It very much complements our own Citizen Opportunities for Digital Innovation (CODI) initiative, as part of our Smart Belfast programme, which supports people’s understanding and direct involvement in designing innovation solutions for our city.”

The City Innovation Office worked with the Administrative Data Research Centre Northern Ireland (comprising Ulster University and Queen’s University) and the Northern Ireland Trusted Research Environment (NITRE) to deliver an eight-month pilot of the panel in 2021.

ADRC NI has published a summary report on the pilot and recommendations for formally establishing the NI Public Data Panel. 

The pilot provided an opportunity to explore how best to involve the public in all matters relating to the use of data for public benefit. It is a great example of collaborative partnership working involving co-creation with citizens who have helped to shape how a formal panel will be established.

Recruitment of members of the public for the first panel will open in early 2023. 

The City Innovation Office will continue to work with ADRC NI and provide advice and support to the panel.

For more information on the NI Public Data Panel, visit