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GDS to run proof-of-concept for data access solutions



Three-pronged approach to focus on APIs, user consent for re-use and governance structures

The Government Digital Solutions (GDS) is to lead a workstream on developing new approaches for organisations to access personal data held by others.

It is planning to work with a cross-section of groups from the public sector, as yet unnamed, in a proof-of-concept project for sharing data within legal gateways.

The move is included in the ‘Making better use of data’ section of the Government Transformation Strategy, published yesterday, and reflects one of the prime objectives of the strategy for central government.

It says the project will take a three-pronged approach to testing how GDS can support the rest of government:

  • Investigating an API based solution for the querying of distributed personal datasets.
  • Working on an approach for conveying user consent for the re-use of personal data.
  • Developing an approach to the creation and management of governance structures to give departments confidence in the quality of data they want to query or share. This would reduce the cost of data matching.

The solutions will be tested by a wider group of departments, with the aim of developing a common approach to collecting data once and reusing it.

The project corresponds with the document’s description of GDS as a central hub to support department’s transformation through the use of data, and its intent to provide targeted support for dealing with specific challenges.

Raising game

The strategy includes a recurring emphasis on the importance of central government raising its game in the use of data, with one of its standout points being the recreation of the role of a chief data officer for Whitehall.

It also places an emphasis on the importance of the Digital Economy Bill – currently going through Parliament – as a facilitator for increased data sharing between departments. There have been claims that this could go against elements of the EU General Data Protection Regulation, which the UK is set to adopt in summer 2018, and the reference to governance structures and an approach for user consent suggest this could be a step toward reconciling the two.

The document also reiterates the Government’s commitment to open data, building up its data science capability, the building of a data infrastructure – with a particular emphasis on the work on authoritative registers – and improving data discovery tools.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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