Government launches National Data Strategy to boost economic recovery

Use of data is something to be "embraced, rather than a threat to be guarded against", says DCMS

A view of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster

Data could help the country's economy recover from the pandemic, the government believes, sparking a new strategy from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to support the use of data in the UK. 

The National Data Strategy will put data at the "heart of the country's recovery from the pandemic", according to Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden.

The strategy will set out five "priority missions" that the government must take to capitalise on the opportunities that data use offers and is a central part of its plans to create a thriving, fast-growing digital sector to help boost the economy as it navigates the recession. Companies and organisations will be able to access it to drive digital transformation, innovate and boost growth across the economy, DCMS said.

It includes plans for 500 analysts to be trained up in data science across the public sector by 2021 and the creation of a government chief data officer to lead its approach to transform its current use of data to drive efficiency and improve public services. Legislation is planned to boost participation in smart data initiatives, which can empower people to use their own data to find better tariffs in areas such as telecoms and energy. There will also be a new £2.6m project to address current barriers to data sharing and support innovation to detect online harms. "Our response to coronavirus has shown just how much we can achieve when we can share high-quality data quickly, efficiently and ethically," Dowden said. "I don't intend to let that lesson go to waste."

"Our new National Data Strategy will maintain the high watermark of data use set during the pandemic - freeing up businesses, government and organisations to innovate, experiment and drive a new era of growth," he added. "I am absolutely clear that data and data use are opportunities to be embraced, rather than a threat to be guarded against."

The National Data Strategy will look at how the country can use existing strengths to boost use of data in business, government and civil society. The government's new chief data officer will oversee digital services and lead the digital, data and technology function. 

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