Editorial

ODI says we’re all being failed by our politicians on this one vital thing

Manifestos of the biggest political parties have a huge gap in the, says the open data group: the role technology plays in our future

Posted 6 June 2017 by

The Open Data Institute (ODI), the body the government set up to promote the use of open data in government, has a problem:

It says the government doesn’t care about data.

More specifically, the group says neither the manifestos published the past 50 days for #GE2017, nor any of the debate around the issues facing the country has sufficiently addressed the key role data and technology needs to play in our common future.

“In the run up to the election we published some manifesto ideas on data,” its Head of Policy Peter Wells says in a very strongly-worded blog post published yesterday.

Wells says its ideas included ways to help build a strong, fair and sustainable data economy where data gets to people who need it, suggesting people can then use data to solve problems, build new services and find new insights.

But, he says, “When the manifestos were published our team worked together to read and compare them with those ideas.

“Every party performed poorly when we assessed the manifestos.”

In response, after seeing how data was being insufficiency addressed in some of the campaigns, Wells says his team also sent the biggest parties a letter.

This asked party managers to help voters make more informed decisions by being open about how personal data was used, and to publish more information about their candidates.

But again, disappointment: “None have published data about their candidates; none are open about how they are using personal data,” Wells writes.

The conclusion, he gloomily notes, has to be that, “Whatever the reasoning, the omission of the role of technology in manifestos has led to the wrong outcome.

“At elections politicians need to show that they have learnt from the past and can tackle immediate challenges – such as Brexit – but they also need to show leadership by openly debating the futures they aim for and helping voters choose which future they want for their country.

“Technology will have an impact on every country’s future, yet the UK has been failing to debate its role,” the ODI concludes.

Read Wells’s full post, which contains much fascinating detail about specific party positions on data, here