Skip to main content

Data-driven policy making

How the Scottish Government's Digital Planning team are using data and technology to support data-driven policy-making across the Scottish Government and beyond

Why data is so important

Data is gathered and used in most aspects of our lives, and is frequently used to inform the services and products which we use.

Policy making by the Scottish Government or other public bodies is no different. It relies on a wide evidence base of information, which often includes data from a wide range of sources.​

What we’ve been doing

We’ve been exploring how geospatial data can be used to inform delivery of strategic and national outcomes; from helping to develop National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) to supporting delivery of £350m in community funding to support those affected by COVID-19.

By utilising data we can ensure that the services and policy we create is informed by real-time and accurate information, gathered from a variety of sources. As part of our work to better harness data within the planning system, we are exploring options such as the creation of a single source data platform. An option such as this, could allow all parties involved in planning to utilise accurate and consistent data, drawn together based on a common set of data standards. 

We have detailed a number of examples to illustrate how we are already using data to inform the development of policy across the Scottish Government.

National Planning Framework 4

We have been supporting our planning colleagues in the development of the Draft National Planning Framework (NPF4) by bringing data together from several themes to assist with visualisation of place as well as using digital tools to improve the public's engagement with the process. 

Data Supporting a Place Based Approach

By bringing together datasets from across multiple themes (e.g. people, economy, transport, energy, environment, and built environment) planners are able to understand a place more holistically at multiple scales, from national and regional through to local level.

Candidate National Developments

By mapping the proposed and suggested developments collected during the call for ideas stage held in early 2020, we have provided a new way for people to interact with the process, and imagine how these could look should they be included in final NPF4. This proved to be a very helpful tool for the consultation process on the Draft NPF4, allowing people to better see how places could develop in both their local area and across Scotland. 

Clyde Mission

Clyde Mission’s purpose is to use the Clyde to drive sustainable and inclusive growth for the city, the region and Scotland. Led by the Scottish Government, the Mission brings together public and private sector partners to collaboratively harness the opportunities and competitive advantage of the River Clyde and the surrounding assets to deliver economic, social and environmental benefits.

The Clyde Mission Fund is providing £10 million of funding in 2020-21 to support capital projects that deliver economic stimulus, jobs, and contribute to one or more of the Scottish Government’s five national outcomes.

In support of this work, we have been working with our colleagues in exploring how we can use data to help identify sites for potential interventions in the area, and how to use this to measure changes in that area over time. 

More information about the Clyde Mission Fund, including details on how to apply is available on

Community Fund Mapping

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Scottish Government made available £350m of funding to support those across Scotland most affected by the pandemic. The fund was established to support councils, charities, businesses and community groups, by delivering funding support across a number of different themes such as third-sector resilience, wellbeing, and food.

To support this, we worked alongside our Scottish Government colleagues in creating COVID-19 emergency funding dashboards which allow the user to see a visual representation of where funding was allocated, what it was allocated for, and a running total of spending allocated per local authority area

This was well received by Ministers, policy leads, and local government finance officers.

You can view the dashboards produced to visualise funding allocation and total spending at the Community Funding Mapping website.

Draft NPF4 logo

National Planning Framework 4

Read the adopted NPF4 on

Last Updated: 07 Jun 2023