GBG: To build a smarter state, greater access to government data is needed

The pandemic has shone the spotlight on data and how we use it. Health organisations and governments across the world have leveraged data in the battle against Covid-19. While businesses have harnessed it to help them pivot during a time of digital acceleration.

However, if we are to succeed in creating a data-driven smarter state – and make the world easier to navigate for both private businesses and the public, while keeping them safe from fraud – we must make data, in particular government-held data, more accessible.

Currently, it is relatively rare the public sector to share data with the private sector. But this needs to change if we are to leverage digital identity to build a smarter state.

The need for collaboration

To put it in simple terms, there needs to be collaboration between the private and public sector so greater links can be forged made between data. After all, no person or organisation has the same identifiers, so the more information that can be accessed the quicker decisions can be made – and more securely too.

Taking the UK as an example, the Government has a complete and accurate set of data that could be used to bolster somebody’s digital identity. Currently, access to this data is limited and businesses, and the government, are therefore limited in what they can deliver when it comes to digital solutions. Often, identity is still verified through physical documents or credit history checks – but this can leave thin file people, or those without a driving licence or passport, excluded from digital society.

Opening up safe access to this data could greatly benefit society. If trusted private companies could securely access databases that cover all demographics of the UK population, we could make strides towards making the nation ‘smarter.’ Moving house, changing jobs, picking up medication, or applying for a tax rebate, are all things that could be made simpler and easier when access to data is increased and digital identities are used. It would also make it easier for organisations to innovate digitally, making it a simpler safer world for consumers and businesses. Similarly, if we look at picking up medication as an example. By having a trusted digital identity, that uses data from the NHS, a person could reorder a prescription online, verify who they are in seconds, and pick up their medicine quickly and easily – essentially making it as easy as buying an item on Amazon.

Essentially, in a world where the public and private sector work together, everyday tasks are made quicker and easier for both businesses and the general public, there will be less data error and improved fraud mitigation.

The building blocks of a smarter future

Access to this data, and greater collaboration, are two of the essential building blocks needed to create a smarter future. Thankfully, it appears the UK Government realise the need for change.

In August, it published the second version of its digital identity trust framework which is part of plans to “make it faster and easier for people to verify themselves using modern technology through a process as trusted as using drivers licenses or passports.” Prior to this, it also revealed its National Data Strategy, with the Government stating, “Under this strategy, data and data use are seen as opportunities to be embraced, rather than threats against which to be guarded.”

Build digital trust and enhance society

As we move forward, there needs to be a step change in the way we approach data, and the way in which access to it is governed. Previously, the focus has been on what laws and procedures must be put in place to prohibit access. Instead, we must create frameworks that focus on how we provide access in a safe, secure and transparent manner, so that we can build digital trust, enhance society and make the digital world a safer place.

This Guest blog was written by Paul Daley, Head of Government & Partners at GBG Plc. 

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GBG is an identity verification, location intelligence and fraud prevention company. GBG offers solutions that help organizations validate and verify the identity and location of their customers. GBG products are built on data obtained from over 200 global partners. To know more about GBG Plc. please visit their LinkedIN and Twitter.


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