Rights Lab Professor Sir Bernard Silverman appointed as chair of UK Geospatial Commission

Friday, 11 June 2021

Sir Bernard Silverman, Professor of Modern Slavery Statistics in the Rights Lab and School of Politics and International Relations, has been appointed as the UK Geospatial Commission’s new chair.

Established in 2018, the Geospatial Commission is an independent, expert committee responsible for setting the UK’s geospatial strategy and coordinating public sector geospatial activity. Its aim is to unlock the significant economic, social and environmental opportunities offered by location data and to boost the UK’s global geospatial expertise.

Professor Silverman, a pioneer of computational statistics, will lead the Commission in its objectives to increase economic growth and improve social and environmental outcomes by:

  • setting cross-cutting geospatial strategy, policy and data standards
  • promoting competition within markets for geospatial data, products and services
  • improving accessibility, interoperability and quality of data
  • improving capability, skills and resources to support the growth of new and existing geospatial businesses and improve public services

Sir Bernard brings a wealth of experience to the role, having been Chief Scientific Advisor at the Home Office from 2010 to 2017 where he provided scientific advice to three Home Secretaries and their ministers across the full range of Home Office policy areas.

Prior to joining the Home Office, he undertook work for a number of other government departments and public bodies, as well as having a distinguished career in academia as a statistician. He is currently also Chair of the Technology Advisory Panel to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner and was knighted in the New Year Honours List 2018 for public service and services to science.

Sir Bernard said: “I am delighted to be appointed chair of the Geospatial Commission and relish the opportunity to lead the development of its vision. In a rapidly advancing digital economy, location data is a huge and growing asset bringing immense value to many of our key sectors across the UK, helping shape and deliver our infrastructure and environmental goals and supporting better public service delivery, as well as facilitating many opportunities for both small and large businesses."

A key aspect of my work has always been how through better understanding and use of data our lives can be profoundly improved. I am looking forward to driving the UK’s geospatial agenda and helping to realise the huge potential offered by the many different kinds of location data.
Sir Bernard Silverman, Chair of the Geospatial Commission

One of Britain’s most cited mathematicians for several decades, he is the recipient of the premier award of the American statistical societies and two Guy Medals of the Royal Statistical Society. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Academy of Social Sciences, and former President of the Royal Statistical Society.

His main research area is now in modern slavery, building on his work for the Home Office in producing the first scientific estimate of the prevalence of modern slavery in the UK.His estimate of 10,000 to 13,000 victims played a pivotal role in the launch of the strategy leading to the Modern Slavery Act 2015. He is involved in developing the methodology further and applying it worldwide. He is also a member of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s Advisory Panel and the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Modern Slavery.

We are delighted that Professor Silverman has joined the Geospatial Commission and we are immensely proud to have him in the Faculty. His impressive career and wide-ranging expertise to date is an asset to the Commission and will make a significant contribution to the advancement of the UK’s geospatial sector.
Professor Todd Landman, Pro Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Social Sciences

Minister of State for the Cabinet Office, Lord True CBE said: “During the COVID-19 pandemic, governments, organisations and individuals have seen the immense value of location data in action. Location data continues to provide us with place-based insights that inform our response, and help deliver services that keep us safe. As we focus on economic recovery, the Geospatial Commission’s work is vital to meet the UK’s geospatial ambitions and unlock the power of geospatial data to support our economic, environmental and societal goals.”

Katie Andrews - Media Relations Manager Social Sciences
Phone: 0115 951 5751

Our academics can now be interviewed for broadcast via our Media Hub, which offers a Quicklink fixed camera and ISDN line facilities at Jubilee campus. For further information please contact a member of the Press Office on +44 (0)115 951 5798, email

For up to the minute media alerts, follow us on Twitter

Notes to editors:

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. Ranked 103rd out of more than 1,000 institutions globally and 18th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2022, the University’s state-of-the-art facilities and inclusive and disability sport provision is reflected in its crowning as The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 Sports University of the Year. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally. Alongside Nottingham Trent University, we lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, a pioneering collaboration which brings together the combined strength and civic missions of Nottingham’s two world-class universities and is working with local communities and partners to aid recovery and renewal following the COVID-19 pandemic.

More news…

Media Relations - External Relations

The University of Nottingham
C Floor, Pope Building (Room C4)
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5798