Today Ci and RAND Europe will bring together leaders from across government, academia, the not-for-profit sector and industry at the House of Lords to celebrate the launch of two exciting joint initiatives:

  1. The Observatory for a Connected Society is the first mobile app and online platform for policy makers and innovators focusing on the impact of technology on society.
  2. The new ‘Building our Connected Society’ report, which draws from the findings of our 2017 Thought Leadership programme, covers a range of trends, risks and needs for a UK society increasingly reliant on digital technologies.

Both of these resources are designed to help policy makers and leaders keep right up-to-date and critically informed about the digital developments that really matter from all sectors. We hope the resources will encourage ideas, collaboration, partnerships and innovation to help citizens embrace and adapt to our increasingly networked, connected and data-rich society. 

Watch Rachel Neaman, Ci’s CEO, and Hans Pung, President of RAND Europe, talk about the launch.

The Observatory for a Connected Society is the culmination of many months’ work with RAND Europe. It extends our Thought Leadership programme and helps us to continue to build a community of interest in all things digital. We’re really excited about the app’s potential, and this is just the start. We will continue to develop the platform together adding new functionality and features.

As an indispensable resource, it provides the most important research, analysis and thinking from leading experts on the opportunities and challenges of our digital society in one place for the first time.

It includes:

  • Authoritative, curated news and research, for example reports from World Bank, Nesta, Demos, Open Data Institute and World Economic Forum.
  • Analysis and insights based on the latest evidence, case studies and data from RAND Europe.
  • Commentary from high-profile thinkers, sector leaders and subject matter experts, for example new pieces from Jacqueline de Rojas, President of TechUK, on diversity in tech and Theo Blackwell, Chief Digital Officer for London, on his new role and its potential.
  • Details of the most important upcoming events, conferences, consultations and other activities.

The Observatory for a Connected Society is free to download here:


The findings from the ‘Building our Connected Society’ report reflect our four Thought Leadership discussions which took place earlier this year. These covered digital learning, open science, digital currency and civic engagement. The four discussions, held at St. George’s House, Windsor Castle, were attended by over 100 representatives from industry, academia, the not-for-profit sector and government with an interest in the future of the UK’s connected society.

The overriding message coming out of the discussions is that we cannot wait a moment longer to address the challenges, and the opportunities, ahead of us. 

These include:

  • The challenges posed by the pace of technological change across all sectors and all parts of society, and the difficulties for policy in keeping pace with this change.
  • The potential of digital technologies to provide significant benefits in some parts of society against the potential to amplify negative social and economic effects on others – whether through the lack of internet connectivity, lower levels of skills or reduced confidence and motivation.
  • The risks around data and ethics when the public uses digital technologies, with low public trust in the organisations and institutions that handle personal data online.
  • The need to define and mainstream a shared set of societal norms and standards when using digital technologies.
  • The need to provide information and training to help individuals critically challenge online material and deal more effectively misinformation and extreme views.
  • The digital skills gap between the older and younger generation, with younger people often able to use and understand digital technologies far better and faster than the older generations and, in some cases, even their teachers.

For more on the Thought Leadership programme’s 2017 topics click here.

Click here to download the summary report of the 2017 programme.