The future of our digital economy is based on data interoperability   

Regarding data, today is the ‘simplest’ the landscape will be. We have, and will continue to, see huge economic and social value generated from the utilisation of data. 

Data are being generated from web-based, industrial and financial systems, from our built world and our environment. To fully exploit its value, we need to connect data to those who need it. We need to reduce the friction of finding, accessing, and using both commercial and non-commercial data to enable better decision-making, analysis and insights that can help citizens, businesses and government unlock value.

A key attribute of smart data is that it is everywhere. In designing systems fit for a web-enabled era, it is essential to address data governance as a distinct area of work from its  ‘utilisation’.

This isn’t a problem that needs new technology. Many attempts to consolidate data—new databases and portals—struggle to scale. Our economic and infrastructure systems are being digitalized in a decentralised and distributed way.

There is no ‘centre’ in a system like this: we need to connect data, not collect it

Trust Frameworks enable this by setting the rules of the road and addressing risks and concerns that prevent the sharing and use of data. To unlock the market architecture for trusted and secure data sharing requires an open, standards-based approach. 

A Trust Framework is a very thin layer to enable market actors to agree on the rules of the game. An implementation entity for a Trust Framework can (a) assure organisations are who they say they are; (b) ensure alignment around pre-agreed rules (e.g. licensing, consent, liability, technical and non-technical areas); and (c) enable and facilitate monitoring, enforcement and modes of redress aligned with those rules.

To enable pre-authorised access to data, Trust Frameworks include verification and assurance services for organisations who wish to share, access and use data. For the avoidance of doubt, Trust Frameworks do not replace other forms of data aggregation and management and, indeed, they can act to enable them. 

The UK has led the world in the creation of such frameworks, through Open Banking (which is regulated in the UK and has been copied in over 80 countries) and Open Energy (which is in development, part-funded by industry and government).  

An open market design for data must ensure that such markets are: 

  1. Cohesive — common rules across markets 
  2. Interoperable — common processes, frameworks, connections
  3. Legal — common frameworks for data rights, liability, redress
  4. Controlled — common, rights-based consent management for access to data
  5. Universal — open to the whole market

Five core principles for the underpinning data infrastructure include; that:

  1. Trusted data is essential to our digital future.
    Accurate, trustworthy data that informs action is essential to decision-makers across society, industry and government. It helps derisk decisions, accelerates new solutions to market and enables transparent monitoring against targets. 
  2. Access to data must be open
    Data must be made discoverable and accessible to those who need it.  To unlock public and private sector benefits, the ability to effectively share data (using Open or Shared licenses) across sectors is essential. It includes both the real economy and the financial economy. Data must be machine-readable, and have open metadata to enable its discovery.
  3. Rules for data sharing should address public and private sector needs
    To enable access to data, the definition of the rules used to share it requires participation from diverse actors. Robust policies and standards can also support assurance and audit. Data owners need to be able to control who can access it in a manner that addresses commercial, legal and regulatory requirements.
  4. Data infrastructure must be governed openly and independently
    To maintain an open market, data infrastructure must include public and private sector actors in its design, implementation and enforcement. A market-neutral body is a preferred approach to developing such data infrastructure and will include remits of data governance, policy, licensing, technical and operational principles. This infrastructure needs to be developed, and iterated upon, at a pace that is relevant to the urgency of the issues being tackled. Both its processes, and outputs related to its implementation, should be openly licenced.
  5. Data infrastructure requires mandates for engagement
    To close data gaps as rapidly as possible and address the public interest, Governments and regulators should define rules for access to specific data, mandate participation and drive adoption. Similarly, industry initiatives can define rules for specific industry benefit, and act as catalysts to adoption. Common policies and open standards must create mandates for machine-readable data, data access processes, access control and mechanisms for enforcement that unlock data flow. 

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