For many years, government data was not easily available to people. It was there in many files, unsearchable and siloed in government offices. As governments are increasingly digitalizing their processes, many possibilities of using the data for innovation and problem solving are also opening up. Many countries have already committed to free, open data and data driven governance.
The benefits of data and technology combination can help build closer relationship between policy design and service delivery activities. Operational analytics can also with 360 degree view into your operations, important metrics, cost-effectiveness and better preparation for future demands. For instance, City of Syracuse, New York saved $800,000 in 2018 on emergency water main repairs, and San Francisco city staff saves $1.7 million a year by applying technology and data skills training to find efficient jobs. Data has been of immense importance during pandemic in managing availability, status, logistics and saving lives. It can be used to improve range of services and inform decisions at scale.
“The idea behind developing a data strategy is to make sure all data resources are positioned in such a way that they can be used, shared and moved easily and efficiently. Data is no longer a byproduct of business processing – it’s a critical asset that enables processing and decision making.” – 5 Essential Components of Data Strategy, SAS
Data is a non-depletable resource in theory, however its use is limited by barriers to its access and that may thereby undermine the outcomes for citizens. Therefore, an approach is required where all can benefit by responsible use of data. A data strategy describes how an organization manages its data state for wider strategic goals. Since the data strategy should align with Government’s strategy in many sectors and departments, an understanding of national strategic goals and how data can be helpful is important. A monitoring and evaluation framework also needs to be worked along so that data strategy outcomes can be measured.
How UK is building its Data Strategy?
UK has identified key national goals and strategy areas where data will play a pivotal role. Government has identified 4 pillars that will enable Data Strategy for effective and efficient use of data:
- Data foundation: Data should be fit for purpose in terms of quality, format, standards, accessibility, interoperability and reusability.
- Data Skills: People should have essential skills to use data for a purpose. Training and education is therefore paramount.
- Data availability: Data of appropriate quality needs to be accessible, mobile and reusable as needed.
- Responsible data: Encourage lawful, fair, sustainable and accountable means of using data for innovation and research.
- Unlocking the value of data across economy: A common challenge is that data is not uniformly available in usable format for all. Another challenge is data needs to have linkages for re-use. Addressing these and similar other challenges will enable businesses to unlock value from data.
- A pro-growth and trusted data regime: Data protection standards, laws and regulations have to keep pace with technological innovation. This does not means that the compliance demands should not be made more burdensome for businesses. The regulators must work towards simple and practical laws so that businesses thrive and people are empowered.
- Transforming government’s use of data for efficiency and improvement in public services
- Ensuring security and resiliency of infrastructure on which data relies
- Championing the international flow of data: Facilitating cross-border data flow requires standards, interoperability, trust in data and a champion who can sponsor international data exchange.
Data management is a critical goal of data strategy. Data is planned to be exchanged, used extensively and consistently. Therefore, there is a need to pay attention to data management aspects such as data standardization, data cataloguing, common vocabulary, metadata, modelling, master data etc. Similarly, data security is also an important aspect that is part of data strategy. Government should demonstrate that citizens can trust them with their data when it comes to security, privacy and compliance.
Having a strong foundation, governments can consistently explore areas where data can play a role. UK has identified five priority opportunities for service and productivity transformation
1. Boosting productivity and trade: For example Manufacturing and supply chain organizations can collaborate using open data for productivity.
2. Supporting new businesses and jobs: Data analysts and data scientists are required to build models and study patterns in data for next level of services.
3. Increasing the speed, efficiency and scope of scientific research: Data is required for scientific study such as clinical trials. Can quality data be made available at speed for scientific study without any privacy, ethical or legal issues?
4. Driving better delivery of policy and public services
5. Creating a fairer society for all: Smaller organizations and NGOs rarely have access to rich and high quality data. Such organizations which take up community program and social welfare issue can benefit from data access for driving social programs.