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Government can make 'real change with big data'


Katie Slattery 2 minute read Data quality

The government can do so much more to deliver better, more effective and tailored services to UK citizens if it invests more in big data and analytics, says an expert. Speaking at an event organised by EMC and Policy Exchange, Paul Maltby, director of open data and government innovation at the Cabinet Office, explained that politicians should look to the private sector for inspiration.

He sees this as being the centre of innovation. In an interview with Computing after his talk, he said the tech community is using “data in a different way”, be it through finding patterns, better segmenting the population and using predictive analytics to produce tangible results.

Better data management is needed, from start to finish. At present, there is no coordinated methodology in place for data collection, data analysis and data deployment.

Consequently, services are not benefiting from insight that is locked in this asset, meaning, in some respects, the UK is failing to be a leader in forward thinking approaches to government. Mr Maltby is nevertheless hopeful of change.

"I think there's an opportunity there but it's one we have to do carefully and not be flippant or rash,” he told the online news provider.

“As we've seen in the commercial world, there are opportunities to use data to see what people want then tailor things around people. It's an opportunity if we do it properly.”

At the same event, Mark Thompson, from Cambridge Business School, highlighted that the government runs the risk of having a digital strategy that can only deliver short-term results.

The problem has been that government has focused too much on building its own technology, which often ends up being out of date when it is delivered. To solve this problem, the expert advised, it should instead ‘consume tech’.