Top public sector data trends for 2022

What data trends should we be looking out for in 2022? The experts weigh in.

Posted 22 December 2021 by Christine Horton

Standardisation of data

Data will be a huge focus for councils as they look to make the most of the information they hold to improve services and save money, says Glen Ocsko, head of local government at Made Tech

“I can see many councils prioritising the standardisation of their data over the next year so that it can be pooled and shared both internally and externally, allowing for greater learning and collaboration between authorities. 

“Open sourcing and open coding will also play a large role in local government in 2022. Many councils now do not have the money to implement new technologies on their own. This means that authorities need to be sharing their successes and will be working to make sure their digital projects are open, licence free and accessible. Providers need to meet this demand and offer solutions and services that are open to allow for greater digital transformation at a local level.”

The Open Data Institute has outlined three areas it believes will impact organisations in 2022. 

A new direction for UK data laws

“In Spring this year, the government is expected to report on its consultation, Data: A New Direction, a rare chance to rethink and reshape the UK’s data laws. It is also an opportunity for the UK to fulfil the ambition of the National Data Strategy and become a world leader in data,” said Dr Milly Zimeta, head of public policy at the Open Data Institute.

“For any reforms to UK data protection to be successful and a positive step forward for business, they should be accompanied by an ambitious vision for data governance and data literacy too. At the Open Data Institute, we’ve developed tools for businesses to help identify and manage ethical issues with data collection, sharing and use; and to identify the holistic data skills required by different roles in organisations, including management skills around strategy and building communities.

“We argue a key ‘quick win’ for government is around strengthening data portability rights and how data portability is implemented across sectors. This would enable customers and other data subjects to allow a range of organisations to have access to their data (and not just the organisation that collected the data); and we’ll be looking to see how the government’s Digital Markets Unit and Smart Data schemes are developed. At the Open Data Institute, our experience of conceiving and supporting the implementation of Open Banking to become an area of UK international leadership, means we’re optimistic about the potential for data portability to work better for businesses and civil society in other sectors.”

Better global data infrastructure to underpin COP-26 pledges

“Post-COP26, big business and investors in 2022 will need to showcase and reach a consensus on how data can play a role in working towards and tracking our collective progress towards net zero. We expect and will need to see an increase in collection, use and sharing of data and acceptance of data as critical infrastructure to chart progress in COP26 commitments. Better data infrastructure is essential for tackling carbon emissions, energy usage, waste management, water and land usage,” said Stuart Coleman, director business development and learning at the Open Data Institute.

“The processes and many of the working practices we rely on for collecting and sharing that data, are not fit for the age of automation and artificial intelligence we are already operating in. We anticipate businesses, investors, governments and wider sectors will accelerate a focus on tackling standards, agreeing best practices and working on overcoming practical challenges involved in sharing data.

“Whilst we await new ways of representing non-financial data on the balance sheet, we will see businesses setting out their different approaches on how best to present data that demonstrates, for example, their commitment to net neutrality in the short term. Also in 2022, I expect to see businesses reacting to investors’ growing needs – from providing near real time data on business performance to serving up their information in more standardised formats.”

Data assurance will emerge as a critical new discipline

“In lots of areas, we’re used to seeing standardisation applied as a way to engender trust and build trustworthiness. Standards also enable interoperability. For example, most nations have one standard plug and one plug socket. Most also have regulated power voltage and legal requirements to ensure safety and create trust amongst consumers for goods and services,” said Deborah Yates, programme lead for data assurance at the Open Data Institute.

“In 2022, I would expect to see a stronger drive towards assuring our data and data practices across business and society more generally. We are already seeing the professionalisation of data, with growing numbers of organisations hiring Chief Data Officers. This next year, I would expect to see stronger supply and demand for data assurance mechanisms across the economy, including the standardisation of data practices with recognised training, accreditations and certification to build confidence and enable efficiency.”

Web 3.0

Web 3.0 views data as an enabling architecture and not one which is owned by any one organisation. In the future, with the vision of Web 3.0, it will be your choice if you share that data, who you share it with and if you charge someone for the privilege of having access to that data. This is why companies such as Facebook have had to re-invent themselves.

Janeiro Digital’s CTO, Justin Bingham, co-authored the required interoperability standard with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, writing the open-source standards for the new Web 3.0 decentralised web architecture, Solid.

A partnership between Janeiro Digital and Greater Manchester NHS Trust is the first NHS partnership of its kind to address the challenges/absence of real-time, safe and secure personal health records.

Janeiro Digital contends the new decentralised approach is not disruptive, nor does it require the abolition of current systems. Instead, supported by new legislative and collaborative ways of working, it connects systems that are already in place using a technology bridge called XFORM which the team at Janeiro Digital developed to connect Solid and other decentralised web technologies. Through the open-source Solid protocol, individuals can store information pertaining to the various aspects of their daily lives – such as healthcare, banking, and their insurance details – in several Personal Online Data Stores (PODS). Janeiro Digital’s platform creates a bridge between PODS, existing systems and the decentralised web, enabling user-consented data sharing.

“A lot of the benefits of Web 3.0 include greater data ownership from users and less trust and reliance on a single provider/service. A world where all the products and services are more private and secure,” said Bingham.

AI in the public sector

“The explosion in data available to public sector organisations has made the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) a critical advantage, but the talent and resources required to build solutions in-house is still prohibitive,” said Sascha Giese, head geek at SolarWinds.

“Ultimately, a machine is faster than a human—or even a group of humans—which means shifting to AI/ML services also allows for cost savings, something that is vital across the sector. Yes, purchasing or subscribing to an AI service and integrating it doesn’t come cheap, but it’s still far more efficient than a team of 20 data analysts. 

“In 2022, we’ll start to see AI and ML featured more prominently in organisations’ IT environments through the adoption of off-the-shelf AI/ML services. As organisations look to strengthen their security postures in response to the evolving threat landscape, for example, they may look for security tools leveraging AI/ML to perform tasks. Meanwhile, offerings from cloud service providers, like Amazon SageMaker or Google TensorFlow, will similarly see widespread growth by reducing the barrier to adoption and implementation for tech pros.

Treating data as an asset

Business leaders around the world will see the subjective qualities of data and realise the need to treat it as an asset to successfully enable businesses, said Christal Bemont, CEO, Talend.

“The pandemic accelerated the need for businesses to digitally transform and rely on data to increase operational efficiency and remain competitive in the market. Yet according to a recent survey, 78 percent of executives have challenges making data-driven decisions and 60% don’t always trust the data they use. Treating data as an asset that can be measured, trusted, and acted on will provide healthy data for businesses to make critical decisions that drive business outcomes.”

A focus on business outcomes

Data management will shift organisations’ focus from the mechanics of moving and storing information to focusing on business outcomes, said Krishna Tammana, CTO, Talend.

“In the quest to drive business outcomes by being data driven, businesses realise the need to go beyond the mechanics of moving data and expect their teams and vendors to drive data health to enable data driven business decisions with confidence.

“As intelligent automation continues to transform the way businesses operate, organisations are starting to realise that AI/ML is only as good as the data they feed into it. If businesses can ensure healthy data at scale and at the speed of business, they will be able to truly unlock the power of data analytics and deliver successful business outcomes.”

Think Data for Government 2022 will take a joined-up look at some key opportunities and challenges for public bodies and their suppliers, hearing from a diverse range of exciting speakers about current thinking and best practices. Find out more about the event, and how to register here.