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Digital Strategy for Wales: Mission 3 – Data and Collaboration

Posted by Glyn Jones, Chief Digital Officer, Welsh Government

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.

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What will be different?

What does this mean in reality? Well our aim is that the following outcomes will be achieved:

  • People and organisations will have full confidence that their data is being treated responsibly, securely and ethically.
  • People will receive better, seamless, services and outcomes will be improved due to data being used effectively and innovatively.
  • We limit the amount of times citizens need to provide the same information by developing the data landscape in Wales to support easy and secure use and reuse of data to deliver joined-up services
  • Public sector data is made available and can be accessed by people and organisations that need it, when they need it, in a format that is easy to use.
  • The right digital channels and culture are in place to allow all sectors to work together and share information appropriately and securely to deliver better outcomes.
  • Higher and further education organisations collaborate with the public and private sectors on building capability and developing innovative use of technology and data.

A plan for delivery

This mission, like the others, will have a clear plan for action and we know many of these ambitions are long term. In fact, work has already started on identifying the actions that need to be undertaken if we are to achieve what we’ve laid out above. Once developed the action plans will be shared and will act as living documents with progress regularly reported on.

Getting your feedback

We’d love to hear what you think about our ambitions in this mission, the outcomes we want to achieve and how we plan to deliver them. For example,

  • Do you think that these are the right outcomes?
  • What do you think the barriers might be?
  • Do you think there are any gaps and, if so, what are they?
  • If you had to prioritise, what would your top 3 priorities be?

Please share your comments with us by filling in the online form where you can feedback on all or some of the missions or you can leave a comment below. The online form and comments will be open until 22 January 2021.

While we will not be responding to each individual comment, rest assured we will be taking all feedback into account when developing the Digital Strategy for Wales.

Keep an eye out for our next blog on Mission 4 – Digital Inclusion.