In a world increasingly reliant on data, access to high-quality data and information it is crucial for driving innovation, economic growth, and societal development. The Department for Science Innovation and Technology (DSIT) is carrying out a review of what public sector data has the potential to unlock most value to both industry and the wider economy. Put in simple terms, is there more data government could share and if so, what data is it?
DAMA UK joined forces worked with DSIT canvassing our DAMA UK members. We held two insightful roundtable discussions. These sessions aimed to explore views from our members on ways of increasing access to public sector data. This builds on our members previous comments on the government’s National Data Strategy. DSIT are also working with other organisations and carrying out interviews with experts from many sectors to inform this review.
Why do the review now?
The Pro-innovation Regulation of Technologies Review: Digital Technologiesfound thatgovernment and broader public sector bodies hold significant data but that the ability of the private sector to access this data is inconsistent and fragmented.
DSIT is working with Centre for Digital and Data Office (CDDO). You may have seen the work from the CDDO on the data market place. This is looking to share government data across other government departments. It is looking at Essential Shared Data Assets (ESDA’s). Allowing government to share the most important data across departments. By DSIT and CDDO working together, it covers both government and private sector requirements for data.
What did our members say?
Our discussions covered the current public sector data sharing ecosystem. With our members from various sectors sharing their experiences, providing valuable insights into the state of data sharing in the public sector.
Value was a key question, and value for whom? Understanding the stakeholders and beneficiaries of data is fundamental to harnessing its potential. This value is more than monetary, it can be to society or to the environment. The value of geospatial data, particularly core reference data like addresses, is indisputable. However, its availability for free to the public sector and must be paid for by everyone else, can create power imbalances, limiting its potential for businesses and for innovation. This issue aligns with the European Open Data Directive, which promotes open access to valuable datasets which are largely geospatial and core reference data.
We covered whetherFreedom of Information requests (FOI) hold insights into the data people required from government. And whether Large Language Models (LLMs) creating shadow data, could potentially eliminate the need for official government data sources. We decided shadow data was good for some things, but there would always be a need for government data.
Enhancing the discoverability of data was another challenge. Some DAMA UK members had not come across data.gov.uk or the Defra Data Services Platform that hold a wealth of data held within government. All in all, it was excellent for DAMA UK member to contribute to this review, and we look forward to the outcome of the work in the coming months.