Real-time data is the lynchpin for any progressive government, enabling it to improve efficiency, enhance operations and communications, provide improved services for citizens, uncover fraud and lower the risk of cyberattacks
The impact of data usage during the COVID-19 pandemic was so significant that the UK government established a National Data Strategy in 2020, the aim of which was to use data to innovate, experiment, and drive a new era of growth.
In June of this year, however, a new initiative entitled the Roadmap for Digital and Data, Transforming for a Digital Future set out more ambitious plans to transform digital public services and deliver world-class digital technology and systems.
Intending to deliver services more quickly, efficiently, and effectively, the new plan builds on the original data strategy by improving the data flow to drive intelligent digital services.
As data grows exponentially, however, four key trends will inform and impact the government’s control and usage of their data:
Government data is exploding, which puts the onus on improved data management
Across all government departments, data is expanding so quickly and is stored in so many disparate, often siloed repositories that it can be a challenge to keep pace. It is essential, therefore, to develop mechanisms that can improve how data is collected, stored, and analysed, and most importantly, develop the ability to do this in real-time to maximise its value.
The government benefits from receiving and processing data in real-time
In an emergency, for example, during damaging floods or even during this summer’s heat waves, the government benefits from receiving and processing data in real-time so that actions can be taken immediately to ensure public safety.
A major contributor to the expansion in data is the number of digital sensors and IoT devices that are standard within government departments. IoT devices and embedded sensors are utilised up and down motorways in the UK to control traffic flows, on rail networks to monitor train speeds, and to check air quality within our cities. But they are also being used to control access to buildings, facilities and to track physical assets.
Progressively, data expansion is taking place in applications at the edge of our global networks – in autonomous cars or through multi-camera video analytics, for example – where data can be processed rapidly and stored close to the devices from which it’s gathered. A report from IDC has found that data creation at the edge is set to expand by 33% by 2025, accounting for 22% of all digital data being created, captured, and replicated.
It is not only the growth of data that is a challenge for the UK government but the fact that it is primarily unstructured. In other words, it comes in various forms such as emails, video and audio files, surveillance imagery, and text files, all non-standard, making it harder to analyse.
Investments in machine learning and AI are being prioritised, and depend on usable data
In the UK, the government has implemented a National AI Strategy with a roadmap of recommendations that would help to ‘supercharge’ innovation and harness the power of responsible data use for productivity and job creation, to enhance public services and drive scientific discovery.
As part of this, it has invested more than £2.3 billion in AI across many initiatives over the past eight years. These have included new AI centres for doctoral training at universities, funding for connected and autonomous mobility, and money to accelerate the adoption of AI in healthcare. AI and machine learning are essential for delivering insights about risks, opportunities, behaviours, and efficiencies.
AI and machine learning tools, however, can only be fully utilised if they have real-time data to work with. This means amalgamating AI and ML resources with a data platform able to ingest considerable data in real-time from various sources.
Keeping data secure
Government data is maintained through protective security policies and risk management centrally and locally. A framework is used to determine how government departments, agencies, and arm’s length bodies that oversee data, can do so securely so the government can function effectively and safely. A significant element is protecting data from unauthorised access, harm, and misuse.
This is essential, as was made clear in the document outlining the National Cyber Security Strategy 2022-2030, which said that of the 777 incidents managed by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre between September 2020 and August 2021, around 40% were aimed at the public sector, with no sign that this trend was abating.
Dynamic data in the future
As the lifeblood of our digital lives, data is set to expand and change in a way we couldn’t previously imagine. This will mean that to be of use to government departments, analysing static data will have to be done in real-time, not on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. This is a challenge for the government to tackle that will allow it to adapt to the changing environment and act on the insights it derives.
By paying attention to these trends, the government will be better positioned to leverage its data in the future
To do this effectively, real-time data platforms must be put in place that can ingest large volumes of streaming data and combine it with systems of record, data lakes, or third parties in real-time. By paying attention to these trends, the government will be better positioned to leverage its data in the future.
Written by Martin James, Vice President EMEA at Aerospike