When questioned by the parliamentary committee tasked with the forthcoming Digital Economy Bill this week, ODI CEO Jeni Tennison called on government in its position of authority to ‘act as a model for how to do data sharing well’
The Digital Economy Bill sets out new powers to help the government share data. CC BY 2.0, uploaded by Eric Huybrechts.
At the Open Data Institute, we strongly believe that better use of data can support better public services for citizens and the wider economy. Data sharing is a necessary part of any digital or data strategy.
The Digital Economy Bill sets out new powers that will help the government share data to support national statistics and academic research. Both are vital activities that help our society to function, to direct resources to where they’re needed and to make new discoveries.
Facilitated by the bill, the government says it will be better able to target support for people experiencing fuel poverty. By sharing data between its departments and energy companies, government can give people better services with lower administrative costs. Another area that stands to gain is the delivery of social care. When information is securely shared across health and social care organisations, resources can be better targeted and services more effective.
While being key to these improvements and many others, data must be shared in a way that maintains or, ideally, improves the public’s trust in how their data is used.
During the hearing, Jeni underlined the pivotal role of openness and transparency in helping to create public trust around data sharing. She referenced the ODI’s openness principles for organisations handling personal data, explaining that potential public concerns about government data collection and sharing could be alleviated by engaging with and informing the public on how and why their data is being shared.