Contrary to popular opinion, the primary hurdle that is impeding the public sector’s growth towards massive data enlightenment is not IT related. It’s a cultural issue, which can be corrected by treating data as an asset. You don’t have to be a computer monitoring software expert to come up with ideas to ensure data security.
It is understandable that the matter of public data security is creating a lot of apprehension, considering the high profile security failures in the recent past. However, what the apprehension has also done is that it has resulted in government information being totally security-centric, while data is criminally neglected.
As a consequence, the government, authorities and NHS are not able to gain the requisite insight to comprehend the needs of the society. They are also unable to enhance efficiency, improve services, or make crucial cost cutting decisions. It is common knowledge that data sharing isn’t always possible, but sharing insight among local authorities is indeed possible.
Had there been a culture shift toward a public data approach that focuses on assets – with emphasis on value, sharing and analysis – it would’ve helped in the transformation of public services. And now to the crucial question: how can one convince citizens and public servants about the benefits that accompany proper usage of data?
First of all the government should create a general understanding that nothing’s new in this change. Data sharing with the private sector is already being carried out on a huge scale every single day; like for instance you have the example of Tesco Clubcard. The Clubcard helps Tesco accumulate and analyze the data of weekly shopping baskets and in turn the insight is used to help manage supply chains, increase promotions and discounts and enhance the customer service.
And of course the customers are aware of the advantages that their service provides them and how pleasant it is for their pockets. One must acknowledge that we are undoubtedly more concerned about the welfare history or information regarding council tax than we are with regards to our weekly shop details. However, it still needs to be pointed out that the advantages of data or insight sharing within the government easily exceed the benefits of any offer that Tesco might want to conjure up.
Even so, the benefits and advantages should be made clearer. The government should be the one helping the citizens conceive a public sector wherein the workers of the frontline can access the entire picture of the needs of an individual and in turn deliver the requisite services at the appropriate time. Just imagine the difference that would be made if a child that is at a high risk is identified quicker or if an unemployed person receives the required support to get back to working ways again. This is possible if you have a data approach that focuses on assets.
It goes without saying that the challenges with regards to processing and analyzing massive data still remains. However, without overcoming the first major hurdle – that of treating data as an asset – the public sector would continue to struggle to reap the rewards that accompany a Tesco Clubcard for example.
Natalia David, an author contributes towards Computer monitoring software and keylogger technology. She provides tips, tricks and news about computer and internet security. You can also follow her on Twitter @NataliaDavid4 to get the latest tips about computer security.