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Strategies and roadmaps

National data strategy


Better use of data can help organisations of every kind succeed – across the public, private and third sectors. It can support the delivery of existing services, from manufacturing to logistics, and it can be used to create entirely new products. It is a driver of scientific and technological innovation, and central to the delivery of a whole range of vital public services and societal goals, from tackling climate change to supporting the National Health Service.

As businesses embrace technology, data creates jobs, opens up whole new markets and drives demand for a highly skilled workforce. On an individual level, the use of data benefits us every day – from the lives saved due to data-driven medical discoveries, to personal budgeting, understanding how much we have exercised and identifying better transport routes. The UK is already a leading digital nation. The data market in the UK (i.e. money made from products or services derived from digitised data) is the largest in Europe. UK tech grew dramatically in 2019, with the UK securing 33% of European tech investment. Globally, the UK now sits behind only the US and China in terms of venture capital investment. But the last five years have seen huge technological changes, and national governments need to respond accordingly.

We need a data strategy that reflects the opportunities and challenges of our new hyper-digital world, one that ensures we weigh the priorities and potential trade-offs of data in a deliberate and evidence-based way, and, above all, one that drives growth in the UK economy and powers our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. This strategy looks at how we can leverage existing UK strengths to boost the better use of data across businesses, government, civil society and individuals. Having left the European Union, we will take advantage of being an independent, sovereign nation to maximise those strengths domestically, and position ourselves internationally to influence the global approach to data sharing and use. We will act ambitiously at home and on the international stage, aligning our history of problem-solving in science and technology with progressive values and the competence and pragmatism of our regulatory institutions.

The UK response to the global coronavirus pandemic has powerfully illustrated the potential benefits of data. Our understanding of this disease, our ability to support people and our cooperation across borders have all relied on the responsible and effective use and sharing of data. But we have a duty to do more – especially with the data that the government itself holds, which can be used and shared for the benefit of society. Individual transactions, from applying for social security benefits to buying a house, are more resilient when personal information can be shared from trusted sources – for example, in the form of a digital identity.

Data is a non-depletable resource in theory, but its use is limited by barriers to its access – such as when data is hoarded, when access rights are unclear or when organisations do not make good use of the data they already have. These barriers undermine the performance of public services and our economy, risking poorer outcomes for citizens. We will ensure that data can be leveraged to deliver new and innovative services, promote stronger competition, and better prices and choice for consumers and small businesses. We will drive an approach to data that holds that all can benefit when data is used responsibly, and that withholding data can negatively impact society.

This content is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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