Transparency and the open society: Big data, healthcare and joining the gaps


Roger Taylor and Tim Kelsey

Roger Taylor and Tim Kelsey showcase new book on transparent data.

IGHI Visiting Professor Tim Kelsey and author Roger Taylor present new book at a special guest lecture at Imperial.

Information is power and data is the new oil say the authors of the new book Transparency and the open society: Practical lessons for effective policy, which was launched during a special IGHI guest lecture last week in South Kensington.  The event, which was chaired by Chief Economist at The King’s Fund – John Appleby, provided a platform to hear from the authors on the current state of transparency policy and highlighted some striking examples of success whilst also exploring key areas for improvement. 

The title of the book is a reference to Karl Popper’s 1945 book The Open Society and its Enemies which identified the danger to democracy when ideas are above challenge. 

The authors believe that the power of data sets held by large corporations and by government are growing rapidly; far faster than the increase in access to information for citizens – and that these organisations have a level of monopolistic control over this information that conflicts with the open and fair workings of our democracy. 

The talk, which was livestreamed, outlined the degree to which control of information allows institutions too much power to limit and shape the types of narrative that come into the public domain, or the form and content of the information we see, with the result that their actions and the narratives to justify those actions are not sufficiently subject to external challenge or democratic debate.

During the talk, the authors aimed to put forward a new definition of transparency based on the idea of fairness and discussed news ways to control the flow of information within institutions and the public domain and addressed ways in which to combat the challenges ahead. 

Big data in healthcare is one of the key drivers of healthcare innovation.

– Roger Taylor


“We were delighted to be able to present our new book to Imperial staff and students.  Big data in healthcare is one of the key drivers of healthcare innovation and it’s important to now turn transparency on its head to provide a fairer world for both the institutions involved and the general population alike” said author Roger Taylor. 

Transparency, done right, can make a huge difference. But for that to happen we are going to need a very different form of transparency”

– Tim Kelsey

Author and IGHI Visiting Professor

“It was a pleasure to present our new book at Imperial.  In a democracy, it is for society to collectively decide what trade-offs we make and what values we aspire to. But for that to work, we have to understand the consequences of our institutional arrangements – how the rules play out for different people. The difficulty we face is that most of that information is stored within the institutions themselves. Transparency is the means by which we can change that – done right, it can make a huge difference. But for that to happen we are going to need a very different form of transparency” said author and IGHI Visiting Professor Tim Kelsey. 

View the photos from the event here

To purchase the book and to find out more, visit the website.


Jo Seed

Jo Seed
Institute of Global Health Innovation

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