UK Government should create data-quality kitemark, Reform recommends

Written by Sam Trendall on 23 August 2018 in News

A report from think tank Reform urges UK Government to create a “seal of approval” for data

Data protection - Image credit: Pixabay

The UK Government should create a “seal of approval” for data which shows that data quality is satisfactory and biases have been accounted for, according to a policy think tank. 

In a new report, Reform suggests the kitemark should be similar to the O’Neil Risk Consulting & Algorithmic Auditing model, a system developed by mathematician Cathy O’Neil to assess potential bias in algorithms and artificial intelligence programs.

As well as the kitemark, the report, ‘Sharing the benefits – How to use data effectively in the public sector’, suggests the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) should develop a ‘data quality assurance toolkit’ to test data held by public sector bodies.

Reform also advises that technology manufacturers working in the government space should ensure that their products work with the relevant interfaces used by the public sector and that all systems bought by public sector organisations should use open standards.

Among the other recommendations are that government departments should implement audit trails showing how personal data is used and for the Information Commissioner’s Office to work with central government to develop programmes to train public servants on issues related to the handling of personal data.

The report also recommends that local authorities should be involved in creating data standards and systems.

The report concludes by saying that “the current cost of not sharing data is high” because it can lead to “gaps in service provision, repetition of information – which can sometimes be traumatic for service users – and poor outcomes”.

Reform says: “Data sharing is crucial to improve service delivery and outcomes, and its benefits can be espoused by all.

“However, the public sector has not yet managed to maximise these benefits.

“Currently, there are uncoordinated attempts to share data that do not have the appropriate data infrastructure to allow public sector organisations to access the data that they need to deliver the best outcomes.

“For the government to live up to its ambition of creating joined-up public services centred around people’s needs, it will need to provide standards and protocols and focus on the construction of a stronger infrastructure around data.”

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