The case for smarter data

Public sector organisations hold vast quantities of data, but how do they unlock the value of it? What makes it smarter?

This was one of the topics covered by panellists in a special public sector focused Q&A session at this month’s OpenText Innovation Tour event. Here’s what the guest panellists had to say on the topic:


Stephen Roberts, Author of Digital Policing Review & Independent Analyst:

“There are a lot of smart data initiatives in the police, commonly based around the concept of building a single version of the truth about individuals. There are clearly lots of good reasons for having that.

“Really smart data is about changing the way the service can cope with austerity and the demand from the public. Some of the best examples come when data from different parts of the service are joined together. West Midlands Police, for example, is working with the local authority and other agencies to put together a really large data set and get a picture of the footsteps of criminality and the influencers behind it. That can then be used to inform early interventions. You could, for instance, focus on talking on young people who are vulnerable to criminality, turning policing into a preventative role, not an investigative one.

“At a time when the service is cash-strapped and under pressure, data can provide a smarter way forward.”


Ian Owen, OpenText Healthcare Specialist & Public Governor, Blackpool NHS Trust:

“From a health and care point of view, we have massive problems with issues such as delayed transfer of care and the links between acute care and local providers of social care. Yet, we have masses of data. The problem is that it’s not being used smartly. What we’re trying to do is simplify the process by compiling data to get a single view of a patient and their needs. If we can do that we would have ‘smart’ information that allows better, faster delivery of services.

“That’s a long process however and we’re starting from a difficult position – our recent research suggested that something like 60% of health organisations have problems with data silos. Until we can actually solve that problem it’s very difficult to use data in a smart way.

“It’s my view that data is the lifeblood of health services. If we can start getting the data right and use it smartly we will deliver benefits to patients and cost-savings to providers. The growing cost of social care is a problem for the public sector, so it’s important we work to put this right and achieve some element of smart data usage.”


Jos Creese, former CIO Hampshire County Council & Independent Analyst:

“The public sector is still relatively early on its data journey. We have masses of data, much of it is unstructured, some of it is of dubious quality, but we need to link it together to gain better insight into customers, problems, challenges and how to manage them.

“There is a growing volume of data from multiple sources, including IoT. Our ability to use that depends on the tools we have at our disposal and our information management maturity. The good news is that those are the areas I believe local authorities are most focused on at the moment. Data insight can bring real value to an organisation.”

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