I’ve been using the following simplified slides in briefings and discussions about “data sharing” and the “data sharing” provisions in the Digital Economy Bill. I thought I might as well share them more widely.
There’s a clear need to improve the general level of understanding about data and computing. Equally clear is the need to improve the understanding of the important difference between public (open) and private (personal) data. In particular, we need to ensure that sensitive data, such as that of at risk individuals – everyone from vulnerable children to undercover law enforcement – is much better protected.
If we’re going to both make better use of data, and tackle the growth of cybercrime and related fraud, we need to bridge these gaps in both knowledge and practice. The more the paper-age “data sharing” legacy persists in an age where computer systems operate at a scale and pace previously unknown, assisted by so-called “machine learning”, the quicker security, privacy and trust will be trashed and fraud increased. However well-meaning the intentions, many current approaches to “data sharing” might equally well be labelled “expedited fraud”.
Current models of “data sharing” artificially postpone the shelf-life of many existing poor processes, practices, organisational structures and services created in the age of vellum and paper. The whole idea of reform and transformation is to use technology to improve public services by re-thinking, re-designing and re-engineering them – not by keeping the old ones on extended life support.
“Data sharing” was a pragmatic means of ensuring access to relevant information in the age of paper and filing cabinets. As my slides aim to show, there are now far better ways of achieving the desired outcome. Instead of leaping straight into discussions of “data sharing” we first need to revisit what the real problem is that we’re trying to solve. On one of my slides, I suggest the actual problem is not “data sharing” but …
Computers can enable us to achieve this outcome without “data sharing” (as in copying and duplicating information around to everyone who might need access to it). They also enable us to implement better services – by moving away from the frustration of transactional, silo services towards frictionless data-driven services that meet the needs of citizens and businesses.
These slides are only a small contribution towards helping ensure an improved understanding of how to make better use of data, and to tackle the problems of cybercrime caused by current poor practice. We still have a lot of ground to cover.