2016 Connected Society Thought Leadership Programme

RAND Europe worked in partnership with the Corsham Institute to design and deliver Thought Leadership Programmes at St George’s House, Windsor. The 2016 consultations explored the opportunities and challenges that digital technologies are creating within society.

Strategic Themes

Re-balancing the control of data

As personal data becomes an increasingly valuable resource, it is more and more difficult to track how such data is captured, stored, shared and analysed by third parties, leaving individuals feeling as if they have no control over its use

Placing equalities at the centre of future plans

While digital has the potential for significant economic and social benefits, it can also magnify the gap between those elements of society that have connectivity and the means to access new services, and those that do not.

Changes to work and skills

The increasing use of digital technology in the workplace will see significant changes to modes and patterns of work. As digital becomes a stronger feature of the workplace, individuals will require new and different skill sets to remain economically active.

Awareness and behaviour change

There is a need to raise awareness across society of the opportunities that digital can provide, while also educating people to the challenges and emerging risks. A new narrative is needed to communicate the benefits and at the same time make individuals more digital-savvy.

Increasing reliance on automation

A key benefit of digital is the ability to assimilate multiple data sources and support more effective and automated decision making. This change has seen an increased reliance on algorithms and, more recently, on the use of artificial intelligence in every aspect of digital, from selecting newsfeeds of interest through to supporting health diagnoses and prioritising public services.


In addition to the strategic themes, two additional ideas were consistently raised by participants. Firstly was the desire for a new narrative, capable of articulating the great opportunities that digital can deliver, but also highlighting the challenges we face as a highly connected society.

Secondly, there is a perceived need to prepare a Charter of Digital Rights and Responsibilities. Such a Charter will sit alongside the new narrative for digital, setting out in accessible language, the role and responsibilities that everyone needs to play if we are to create a more inclusive, safe and equal digital society

Participating Experts

Hans Pung, president of RAND Europe, led a team of senior researchers participating in these sessions, including:

  • Catriona Manville, with expertise in innovation policy, health and research evaluation
  • Charlene Rohr, whose research aids robust decision making and identifying tradeoffs
  • Alexandra Hall, who contributed insights from research on organisations and resilience, and
  • Kevin Dean, who added expertise and experience in technology, innovation and health systems.

Other leading experts represented government, industry, academia and the not-for-profit sector. The series brought them together to examine the critical issues posed by the digital agenda, explore solutions to the challenges faced and, more generally, to discuss the following four topics:

Trust and Ethics

Building a more informed digital society

Digital Living

Getting the most out of digital society

Cyber and Resilience

Digital's role in regaining resilience

Digital Health

Digital's role in health and care

Learn more about the 2017 Thought Leadership Programme