Citizen generated data

Smart devices, fitness trackers and ever greater connectivity are allowing us to collect more data about ourselves than ever before, with tangible benefits for healthcare and public health. How do we realise that potential?


Traditionally most health related data was produced in the healthcare setting, but this dynamic is beginning to change. Citizens are creating masses of information outside  healthcare settings through the increasing use of digital technologies. The data from these interactions could help inform disease prevention and improve treatment strategies at both the level of the health system and the individual patient.

Why it matters

In 2008, 17% of people in the UK owned a smartphone. In 2018, that percentage was 78%. For good, or (maybe) ill, recent years have seen these devices become central to people's lives. The rapid growth of smartphone technology, and concurrent infrastructure improvements have driven an explosion of 'smart' technologies: from watches and fitness trackers to other, more specialised devices, all collecting and storing data about us as individuals. Such data could have great value for healthcare.

Citizen generated data includes all the data we produce, whether for specific health-related purposes, lifestyle goals or just by interacting with a 21st century, digitally enabled world.

There is growing policy interest in using citizen data, but there has been relatively little focus on the impact of citizen generated health data and the opportunities and challenges to harnessing this data for health. We want to help explore whether and how this data could be used effectively to improve our health.

Our work

We explored how citizen generated data might be used appropriately and effectively to improve our health, now and in the future. In particular, we examined how individuals may interact with their own data to improve their health, and the critical elements needed to harness citizen generated data to make healthcare better. This included desk-based research and analysis, expert interviews, and a cross-sector round-table discussion event.


If you would like to know more about this project, please contact Laura Blackburn

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