The internet is increasingly joining up our cars, our phones and homes, making them more digital. The way we shop, the way we work, the way we relax are all more dependent on digital technologies. Data is the lifeblood of digitisation. But a second aspect of digitisation is less well understood. While paper processes are being transformed, the ability to collect, store, move, share, and combine data through digitised processes creates new opportunities – for good and for ill.
This year, Kainos and Faculty have worked closely with the Government through COVID-19, both individually and in partnership.
Faculty helped the NHS to more accurately allocate beds, oxygen, and PPE to the hospitals that need them most, as well as more precisely forecast the likely development of COVID-19 in local areas through the NHS Early Warning System. The firm also helped the Government to gain access to rapid reporting of the condition in particular sectors of the economy to enable agile policy-making, such as the furlough scheme.
However, data has also been used to enable actions and activities that have been more concerning, both in the UK and internationally.
While Faculty and Kainos are technology companies, we both believe that the use of data should always be rooted in moral purpose, not merely technological potential.
We wholeheartedly welcome this National Data Strategy consultation, which provides the UK with the opportunity to adjust and clarify rights and responsibilities around data, assure the trustworthiness and legitimacy of data use, and earn a high return on its investment in our national data infrastructure. This “Data Transformation” called for by the National Data Strategy will extend the Digital Transformation revolution initiated by the UK government in 2010 – and the gains are potentially bigger. Providing clear guidelines and protections around the use of data will both protect citizens and allow the UK to use data to its full potential. If we get these reforms right, we will not only increase productivity, create jobs, and improve public services, the UK will also lead the world in having done so.
We believe Government Data Transformation can best be achieved through six actions: