The Power of Data Sharing – Part 1: Benefits for the Public Sector & Users

By Tobias Koch, Data Advisor at Derilinx

The true driver of innovation in the public sector

Public administrations around the world are striving to boost their performance with stronger data skills. Whether it’s non-personal or personal data, they both come with the promise of facilitating a transition to a more efficient, integrated, and flexible public administration. Likewise, the regulation of data has been high on the agenda of international organisations to create legal certainty around its use. Maybe most notably, the European Union created a data codex with its Data and Data Governance Act in addition to the GDPR and Open Data Directive. The ambition: legally combine public resources across departmental, even national borders and integrate public service for the benefit of both citizens and administration. The prerequisite for all that, however, is how to comprehensively share data between public agencies and possibly even private actors.

In this context, this series of blog posts attempts to answer the most critical questions about data sharing.

What does the public sector get out of data sharing?

Government buildingThe promise of public administration, in general, is stability and legal certainty – no matter what happens, the administration takes care of its citizens and distributes the state’s resources and services according to the respective rules. Digitalisation has massively changed how goods, resources and services are exchanged in modern societies, fundamentally shaping citizens’ expectations towards government service delivery. So, while the promise of public administration remains the same, its delivery channels and models need to change.

Modern user interfaces, integrated single points of contact and automation are keywords that all require the sharing of data. Sharing data, both personal and non-personal, gradually allows the public sector to implement these changes to be closer to their citizens, rethink their services, and ideally provide individualised services with less effort. In the long run, redefining their services and integrating and automating them can potentially free an organisation’s resources to be used on addressing individuals’ issues in a more personalised way, train employees or invest in infrastructure. Citizens won’t suddenly stop talking to the administration because of new services, but they want to limit their administrative effort and if in doubt have skilled personnel to navigate them through whatever challenge they might face.

What does the user get out of data sharing?

UserWhether the user is a business, private citizen or even an employee in the public sector, a comprehensive approach towards data sharing gradually allows for more streamlined services with the same or ideally better results for the user. The user should not need to provide information that has already been submitted to an authoritative data source, and the respective information can be centrally accessed, without compromising the data’s sensitivity. The user can, for the first time, even see the data authorities have and potentially review access to it. The user is in control, a factor that’s crucial in a more and more connected and digitalised reality.

The direction is clear: more data sharing in the public sector for more streamlined and efficient services. Ireland has taken significant steps in this direction, with its Public Service Data Strategy emphasising the re-use of data for public service delivery. There are a number of promising data sharing agreements in place already, that put user-friendliness and efficiency first.

In the next part of our blog series, we’ll look at how data sharing can be facilitated.

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