When we think about how we can do things better digitally, we often overlook the importance of data. Data underpins everything digital – whether it’s the data we put in, such as the password to access online banking, or the data that comes out, like the weather forecast for the following day.
In terms of delivering public services, the pandemic has demonstrated first-hand how crucial it is for our services to work together, to have access to accurate, timely data and for data to be shared across public sector organisations. On a daily basis, data has been used to inform decisions which ensure people’s safety and reduce the spread of transmission. While we’ve seen good examples within Wales of public bodies working together and sharing data, more could be done if, for example, we stored and managed it in a more consistent way.
Therefore our mission is to improve the services provided to the public by working together and ensuring that our data is used effectively, well organised, protected and gets to where it needs to go.
So, what will we do?
Learning from our experiences in recent months, I’m keen we develop a sense of shared ambition for the use of data and collaboration across public services. We can do this by identifying opportunities to work together on digital initiatives and get the most out of our data.
We want to put the building blocks in place for collaboration to happen and to support integrated and seamless public services. To help remove some of the barriers currently stopping or delaying the flow of data, to reduce the burden on the citizen, and to ease the exchange of information between digital systems, our aim is to work collectively to develop consistency through agreeing common data standards and platforms that will support the re-use of data and collaboration more generally.
Innovative use of data can radically transform the way we deliver public services by delivering new insight. The ADR Wales partnership has already shown what can be achieved by working together in using data for research and we will champion greater use of data linking and data science. In doing so, adding value to the data we hold, identifying new data sources that can help create a rich picture of society.
The use of data driven innovation to support automation and artificial intelligence can also help deliver savings, take away the burden of repetitive tasks and help people focus on where they can add most value. We will work with academia and the private sector to champion the use of data-driven innovation (for example through working with the Data Nation Accelerator) and seek to join up the expertise that clearly exists in Wales with the public sector challenges we face.
In doing this we want to ensure we are maintaining people’s trust and are clear about how their data will be used, reassuring them that their data will be treated ethically and with care.