14 Sep 2023

Sopra Steria: Empowering smarter states through a Common Data Model #techUKSmarterState

Guest blog by Susannah Matschke, Head of Data Insights and Intelligence, and Omon Fagbamigbe, Data Consulting Manager, at the Transport Sector at Sopra Steria.

Over the past decade, there has been a growing realisation in Government, of the critical importance of leveraging data and technology in driving digital transformation to provide efficient and impactful public services that effectively cater for the needs of citizens.  Today, data drives decision-making, and technology is rapidly reshaping our perspective of the world we live in. The UK government is committed to implementing data-enabled services that support efficient and real-time decision-making, smarter policy setting and empower its citizens. This commitment is evidenced by the government's National Data Strategy (NDS), where it is anticipated that the public sector will spend up to £46 billion on digital in 2022–20231 , this also includes data and technology.   

According to Paul Willmott, Executive Chair, Central Digital and Data Office, “Digital and Data are the essential building blocks of all successful organizations”. Similarly, the concept of a ‘Smarter State’ has emerged as an image of an ideal, not-too-distant future, but what does that really mean, and how do we get there?    

A Smarter State leverages data-driven insights, technological advancements, and streamlined processes to enhance citizen services, optimise resource allocation and foster sustainable development. The idea of a ‘Smarter State’ has become a symbol of advancement in governance, leveraging data-driven insights, technological advancements, and efficient processes to improve citizen services, effectively manage resources, and pave the road for sustainable development.  Central to the realisation of a Smarter State is the adoption of a Common Data Model, which serves as a foundational framework for data integration, analysis and informed decision-making. This blog explores the significance of a Common Data Model in enabling a Smarter State and its far-reaching implications across various sectors.  

The power of data integration   

A Common Data Model acts as a unifying structure that standardises how data is organised and represented across a project, department or organisation. It also allows for the easy sharing of data across organisations and supply chains, as data is clearly defined and structured. Traditionally, government entities have operated in silos, leading to fragmented data landscapes that hinder comprehensive analysis and holistic decision-making. A Common Data Model offers the ability to break down these barriers by providing a standardised framework that facilitates data integration.  

Common Data Model also plays an important role in facilitating the implementation of the digital twin. The Digital twin is widely recognized as a key enabler in the advancement of industry 4.0, which requires an accurate, quality and constant flow of data, this is where Sopra Steria’s bespoke Common Data model plays a crucial role. Therefore, harnessing the power of interconnected data is only a glimpse into the vast potential that lies ahead. Consider a scenario where a city wants to improve traffic management. By integrating data from various sources such as traffic cameras, GPS-enabled vehicles and public transportation systems into a Common Data Model, officials can gain a holistic view of traffic patterns. This integrated data can be used to optimise traffic signal timings, identify congestion hotspots and design more efficient transportation routes, ultimately reducing traffic congestion and enhancing citizens' daily lives.   

Enhancing service delivery   

The significance of good governance cannot be understated, as it stands as a cornerstone for ensuring the efficiency of public service provision. As such, one of the key objectives of a Smarter State is to provide seamless and responsive citizen-centric services. A Common Data Model plays a pivotal role in achieving this by enabling a better understanding of citizen needs and preferences. When data from different government agencies, such as healthcare, education and social care, is integrated using a Common Data Model, a more comprehensive profile of each citizen can be established. This profile, with appropriate security and anonymisation measures in place, allows government bodies to personalise services and interventions, resulting in improved outcomes.   

When healthcare data is integrated with education data, a comprehensive view of a child's health and academic progress can be obtained. If a student is identified as having a chronic health condition, the school can provide tailored support and accommodations to ensure the student's well-being and academic success. It can also provide the basis for government organisations and schools to make well-evidenced, needs-based requests for funding to support society’s most vulnerable. This level of personalised service delivery enhances citizens' trust in the government's ability to address their unique needs. Ultimately, implementing CDM in government service delivery will foster efficacy, efficiency, responsiveness, and transparency, leading to improved outcomes for citizens and society at large.  

Informed decision-making   

The National Data Strategy aims to move the UK towards building a world-leading economy that fosters public trust in the use of data.  The effectiveness of your decisions is strongly related to the quality of data you have at your disposal². In other words, the higher the quality of the data you use to guide your decisions, the more probable it is that they will be effective and accurate. Therefore, data-driven decision-making is the foundation upon which we can create a Smarter State.  A Common Data Model enables decision-makers and budget holders to access accurate, up-to-date and comprehensive information, empowering them to make informed choices. For decision-making to be data-driven, there must be trust in the data we are using. Often, we see data sources that are inaccurate, incomplete or require offline manipulation before being used in reporting. The introduction of a Common Data Model presents the opportunity to examine and interrogate data, its standards, completeness and naming conventions, amongst other things. This helps to foster trust in data so that it can be used with confidence in the decision-making process. Whether it's allocating resources, formulating policies or responding to crises, having access to integrated data is crucial for effective citizen services.   

For instance, during a natural disaster, a Common Data Model that integrates information from meteorological agencies, emergency services and infrastructure departments can provide real-time insights into the situation. This allows officials to allocate resources efficiently, deploy emergency services to the right locations and communicate accurate information to citizens, thereby minimising the impact of the disaster.   

Fostering collaboration and innovation   

Research shows that collaboration and collective knowledge fosters innovation ref. That is, collaboration enables an open-source community where knowledge and data sharing are required for growth and advancement in technology. The UK Government is promoting collaboration between the public, private and education sectors. Therefore, there is a need for a common data model, that processes and transforms the curated data from the various sources as a single source of truth for all users, which often leads to innovative breakthroughs. Similarly, our Common Data Model encourages collaboration among government departments, as it establishes a shared language for data representation. When different agencies use a Common Data Model, they can seamlessly exchange information and insights and overcome legacy barriers, leading to synergistic efforts and innovative solutions.   

For example, consider a scenario where urban planning and environmental protection agencies collaborate on a sustainability project. By sharing data through a Common Data Model, they can assess the impact of urban development on the environment more effectively. This collaboration could result in the design of eco-friendly urban spaces that optimise resource utilisation and minimise negative environmental impacts.   

Challenges and considerations   

Implementing a Common Data Model for a Smarter State is not without challenges. These challenges exist at the organizational, operational and technical levels. Technical challenges involve harmonising data schemas, ensuring data quality and maintaining compatibility with legacy systems. Organisational challenges include coordinating efforts among different government bodies and fostering a culture of data sharing. Privacy concerns must also be taken into account to safeguard citizens' sensitive information, as well as rigorous ethical assessments to understand the potential impacts of the use of the data.   

To address these challenges, it's crucial to involve stakeholders from various sectors in the design and implementation of the Common Data Model. Collaboration, transparency and an iterative approach can help overcome hurdles and ensure successful adoption.   


In an age where data is abundant and technology is advancing rapidly, the concept of a Smarter State is both attainable and essential. A Common Data Model serves as the backbone of this transformation, enabling data integration, personalised service delivery, informed decision-making and collaboration across government agencies.   

As governments strive to enhance citizen services, optimise resource allocation, and drive sustainable development, the adoption of a Common Data Model emerges as a critical step towards realising the vision of a Smarter State. By breaking down data silos and fostering a culture of collaboration, governments can unlock the full potential of data and technology to create a future that is more efficient, responsive and citizen centric.   

Sopra Steria‘sResponse  

In the rapidly changing world of technology, where data has emerged as the fundamental building block for successful governance and policy formulation, Sopra Steria leads the way with our innovative data solutions driven by our understanding of government strategic objectives. Our commitments align with the UK National Data Strategy to leverage the power of data and technology to achieve a better outcome for everyone. We are committed to creating data solutions that advance not only government objectives but also an environment of governance that is more effective, informed, and forward-thinking. Contact our Data Insight and Analytics Team for more information.  


​​1. Central Digital and Data Office. Roadmap for Digital and Data 2022 to 2025. 2022 [cited 2023 Aug 31]. Transforming for a digital future: 2022 to 2025 roadmap for digital and data - GOV.UK. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/roadmap-for-digital-and-data-2022-to-2025/transforming-for-a-digital-future-2022-to-2025-roadmap-for-digital-and-data  

​2. Fagbamigbe O. Sopra Steria. 2022 [cited 2023 Aug 31]. Data - a strategic asset. Available from: https://www.soprasteria.co.uk/insights/blogs/details/data---a-strategic-asset  

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Susannah Matsche is Head of Data Insights and Intelligence for the transport sector at Sopra Steria.

Omon Fagbamigbe is Data Consulting Manager for the transport sector at Sopra Steria.

From 11 – 15 September techUK is running our annual Building the Smarter State Week in the run-up to the ninth edition of our flagship public services conference, Building the Smarter State, on Wednesday 27 September. Book your tickets here