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Manchester plans for data sharing authority

27/01/16

GM-Connect body to support understanding of issues and integration of services around the city

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) is making plans for a specialist team to promote data sharing among public service organisations in the city.

Manchester_aerial_shot_croppedIt has proposed setting up an authority named GM-Connect to provide a centre of excellence to support the integration of the area's health and social care and reform of its public services.

The GMCA's chief executive has been asked to approve the measure, which would cost £400,000, when it meets on Friday 29 January. If approved, it would have four staff and be overseen by an executive board of representatives from the city's borough councils, healthcare providers and other services.

The move marks a stage in the devolution of powers to the GMCA, and reflects the recommendations of the Smart Devolution report, published by the Policy Exchange think tank earlier this month.

Essential for transformation

Tony Lloyd, interim mayor of Greater Manchester, said: "Improved data sharing is essential to successfully transforming public services in Greater Manchester and ensuring they are better integrated.

"It will enable us to build up a clearer and more detailed picture of what's happening across the area so we can target our resources as effectively as possible, as well as helping us to identify the people most in need of support. This includes reducing the costs of public services in a sustainable way by addressing issues, for example potential poor health, before they become expensive problems."

Among the priorities for GM-Connect will be:

  • Ensuring that information collected is properly safeguarded and only used when appropriate.
  • Helping authorities understand the risks, challenges and opportunities in sharing data.
  • Helping to save people from providing information to public services more than once.

Planning for the service has drawn on lessons from overseas including New York, Canada and Estonia.

The Policy Exchange report includes recommendations that city mayors should set up a team of data analytics specialists to support work in the field, and create a city data marketplace for buying, selling, requesting and freely exchanging data.

The early indications on GM-Connect suggest it will be more focused on the governance issues around data sharing, but the GMCA's statement also referred to identifying patterns and relationships to support the allocation of resources.

Picture by Daniel Nisbet, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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