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MoD unveils Data Strategy for Defence

29/09/21

Mark Say Managing Editor

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The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has published its Data Strategy for Defence, saying it is intended to provide a structure for data leadership in the sector.

Union Jack on army uniform

A key element is a set of six data rules for how organisations should treat data, against which all programmes and activity will have to show their compliance.

The new strategy further develops some of the themes in the Digital Strategy for Defence, and responds to concerns that data within the sector is fractured and can be hard to find and share when needed.

Writing in the document’s foreword, Laurence Lee, second permanent secretary at the MoD, says only 25% of the systems have data that is automatically discoverable, that specialist skills are limited, and that defence has become a “data laggard”.

Outcomes for 2025

It outlines four strategic outcomes to be achieved by 2025, that: data is ready for exploitation, including being machine readable; that it is treated as the second most important asset behind people; that those people have the skills to exploit it; and that defence organisations become data leaders with their partners, allies and the technology industry.

This leads to the six rules, intended to keep organisations within the same criteria and to underpinned by a business model to optimise data exploitation.

They are that the sector must:

  • exercise sovereignty over data, including accountability and ownership;
  • standardise data across the defence landscape;
  • exploit data at the most effective and relevant point of the value chain;
  • secure digital data at creation, curation, when handling, storing and transmitting;
  • curate data, ensuring it is assured, discoverable and interoperable;
  • and ensure data is retained as an asset beyond individual projects.

A number of key success enablers are also outlined, including central leadership on the issue, effective governance controls, applying standards, practices and policies to enhance the value of the data, an optimising it to be ready for exploitation.

Along with these are facilitators including a sustained funding approach, which involves a finite annual budget for the Defence Data Office, explicit provision for data activities in the budgets of organisations, and programmes for the delivery of data related components.

There will also be a pan-defence plan with delivery milestones. and specific measures to track delivery.

Lee comments in the foreword: “The Defence Data Strategy establishes a strong stake on the ground and sets precedent to resolve defence’s own data paradox. In a world of exponentially increasing data, the strategy mobilises defence to cohere in service of enabling systems interoperability and adequate channeling of investment into the right capabilities and tools to enable data sharing and insight at the point of need.”

Image from iStock, Ikholdwadia

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