IT Systems and Data Protection

30.08.17

Transforming government with data

Source: PSE Aug/Sept 2017

Peter Wells, head of policy at the Open Data Institute, explains why the need to strengthen our data infrastructure has never been more important.

Data is infrastructure. Like roads that help us navigate to a destination, data helps us navigate to a decision. And like roads, data is most useful and powerful when connected to other data. For example, it would be difficult for an ambulance service to run efficiently without data about patients, hospitals, addresses, traffic routes and traffic congestion.

The public sector supports huge amounts of this data infrastructure, as it underpins our public services and knowledge of society. Making this data as open as possible will allow people to use it in other sectors. Much of the data that is useful for an ambulance could also help organisations that transport medicine, bed sheets or food to and from hospitals, chemists, supermarkets or our offices and homes.

Much of this data infrastructure is also supported by the private sector, and businesses use it to deliver their services. Making private sector data as open as possible can help create new business models, grow the economy and help the public sector do its job too. For example, the private sector has better data on traffic congestion than the public sector.

We must consider the role data has to play in our society, where data has served us well, and where there are gaps, if we are to create trust and get the most impact from data.

Similar challenges exist in the public sector and the private sector: gaps in knowledge and skills; the need to engage people in debating how data should be collected, used and who can innovate with it; and the challenge of learning what are ethical boundaries when using data.

There is a need to make data equitable and spread its benefits to everyone, everywhere. With equitable access to data – made open for anyone to access, use and share, or shared under controlled conditions – people can make better decisions, businesses can keep pace with innovation in a changing world and policymakers can use data to deliver policy.

Tackling these challenges needs more than theoretical thinking. It needs experiments and delivery to build data literacy and understanding for citizens, for people building services and for politicians.

The public sector can learn how to make data easier to use by joining groups that develop open standards for data, and taking part in initiatives like OpenActive, which is helping activity providers to publish their opportunity data (when and where activities happen) with the aim of helping more people get physically active. 

Local economies can grow by publishing more data openly and encouraging the private sector to do the same, either through persuasion or through government’s procurement power. By releasing open data people can experiment and innovate beyond expectations. The public sector can also work with the private sector and civil society to use data to tackle common challenges like flooding or transport.

More and more of the services we use every day rely on data, so strengthening our data infrastructure has never been more important. When we maintain our roads, we choose where they need to be widened and where junctions and bridges are needed to better connect people and places. We must do the same with data infrastructure.

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Council told to reimburse Suffolk woman charged for care she never received

23/11/2017Council told to reimburse Suffolk woman charged for care she never received

Suffolk County Council has been hit by criticism from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) after a woman was wrongly charged for ... more >
Business rates announcement does not solve council funding uncertainty

22/11/2017Business rates announcement does not solve council funding uncertainty

The government has announced that business rates will be reduced by changing the basis from the Retail Price Index (RPI) to the lower Consumer Pr... more >
Khan attacks Hammond, describing Budget as ‘most anti-London in a generation’

22/11/2017Khan attacks Hammond, describing Budget as ‘most anti-London in a generation’

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has attacked Philip Hammond’s Budget, calling it the “most anti-London Budget in a generation.” ... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >
Council told to reimburse Suffolk woman charged for care she never received

23/11/2017Council told to reimburse Suffolk woman charged for care she never received

Suffolk County Council has been hit by criticism from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) after a woman was wrongly charged for care she never received. Care providers, arra... more >
City-centric, deeply disappointing and a nightmare – criticisms pile against the Budget

22/11/2017City-centric, deeply disappointing and a nightmare – criticisms pile against the Budget

It’s been a busy day in the PSE office. Philip Hammond’s Autumn Budget included a number of interesting announcements, ranging from new devolution deals and housing measures to change... more >

the raven's daily blog

City-centric, deeply disappointing and a nightmare – criticisms pile against the Budget

22/11/2017City-centric, deeply disappointing and a nightmare – criticisms pile against the Budget

It’s been a busy day in the PSE office. Philip Hammond’s Autumn Budget included a number of interesting announcements, ranging from new devolution deals and housing measures to changes to business rates. This year’s Statement was described well by Lord Bob Kerslake, who said it had been a “mixed bag” for hous... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Driving forward a healthier Scotland

10/11/2017Driving forward a healthier Scotland

Dundee City Council is leading the way in boosting electric vehicle (EV) uptake in Scotland, writes Rebecca Wallace from the local authority&rsqu... more >
A smarter approach to digital transformation

10/11/2017A smarter approach to digital transformation

Catherine Bright, Smarter Digital Services (SDS) manager, explains how a partnership of 12 councils across Kent and Surrey are jointly funding a ... more >
Delivering on estates

10/11/2017Delivering on estates

Sam Ulyatt, strategic category commercial director at the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), on how a new framework can help public sector organisat... more >
Open for business

10/11/2017Open for business

Clare Moore, senior specialist of valuation and disposals at the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), explains how public sector bodies looking to... more >

interviews

‘The HSCN is the realisation of industry best practice’

30/06/2017‘The HSCN is the realisation of industry best practice’

Keith Smith, public sector business development manager at Virgin Media Business, tells PSE’s Luana Salles that health and social care orga... more >
HSCN: The enabler for a more joined-up public sector

26/06/2017HSCN: The enabler for a more joined-up public sector

Mark Hall, Chief Assurance Officer at Redcentric, discusses NHS Digital’s project, the new Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) and what b... more >
Maintaining the momentum for further devolution

25/04/2017Maintaining the momentum for further devolution

Ahead of this year’s mayoral elections, Lord Kerslake, the former head of the Civil Service, tells PSE’s David Stevenson why the argu... more >
New social care funding misses the point

13/04/2017New social care funding misses the point

Clive Betts MP, chair of the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee, reflects on the social care funding released in this year’s ... more >

public sector focus

View all News