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Spatial Hub: Turning local government data into self-sustaining assets

Alison Clark-Dick explains how the Improvement Service are turning local government data into a valuable and self-sustaining asset and what this means for local authorities.

Local authorities collect masses of data in the course of delivering their services. Much of this data is collected for one single purpose and rarely used elsewhere. There may be few standards in data collection and frequently the policy directives which lead to its collection generally avoid data maintenance specifications. Hence, little value is placed on the resources around this data and the resultant deterioration in quality has become noticeable. However, with a little thought, planning and structure, such data can become a valuable asset to local government for internal purposes, such as decision-making and digital transformation. It is equally valuable to the wider data community that require it for innovation and business.

At the Improvement Service [IS] we had already recognised this potential through commercialisation of local government created address data (via Ordnance Survey) and IS is now providing reimbursement (£250k this year) back to local authorities to reinvest in improving and maintaining such datasets. We know from multiple requests from the wider data community (including 100+ companies) that many other local government datasets have similar value to addresses. The difficulty of accessing these datasets has resulted in frustration to those wishing to use them. Therefore, the Spatial Hub has been created to collect, conform and publish (via web services) many other national datasets (36 and counting).

Improvement Service is about to enter into partnerships with companies who will be Solution Providers and take these datasets to the commercial market. This should increase the reimbursement available to keep the data well maintained in local authorities as a self-sustaining model.

In doing this, IS are:

  • Increasing the accessibility, use and quality of local government data
  • easing the burden of other data users having to make sense of all of this unstructured and unstandardised data, thus increasing productivity
  • generating money to redress the deterioration of resources and quality in data management

There is no reason why this is restricted to local government data. Improvement Service is currently negotiating data sharing agreements with utilities companies, so that their data can be made more accessible. There has been some interest in England and Wales and consideration is being given as to how the model could be applied there. In a world of declining resources for local government and public services, the Spatial Hub offers an opportunity to use an untapped public asset to improve…

Continue at the Local Government Information Unit (Scotland)


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