The British government has set up a national data strategy forum as part of its goal to make the country the world’s number one data destination, while maintaining high standards of protection and governance.

The establishment of the forum coincides with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport publishing its response to a consultation on the strategy.

Most respondents said the UK had to realise the benefits from better use of data use and should view data as an opportunity to drive productivity and innovation rather than as a threat to be managed, given risks such as cyber-attacks or data breaches.

In response, Britain’s Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, said:

“It confirms the need for the UK to maintain high data protection standards, ensuring our regulatory regime remains able to respond to the rapidly evolving technological and societal landscape.”

The government is also presenting to Parliament a new data-sharing code to make it clearer and easier for firms to share data. The guidelines were developed by the Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) which has launched a data-sharing information hub with guidance and practical tools to help businesses.

Denham said the code and strategy give individuals and organisations “confidence in using data to fuel economic growth, drive innovation and deliver efficient public services, while ensuring people’s information is protected”.

The strategy’s main goals are:

  • Unlocking the value of data across the economy

  • Securing a pro-growth and trusted data regime

  • Transforming government’s use of data to drive efficiency and improve public services

  • Ensuring the security and resilience of the infrastructure on which data relies

  • Championing the international flow of data

“Through the pandemic we have learned how to process data for the public good quicker, more efficiently and more responsibly. Now we need to capitalise on those valuable lessons,” said media and data minister John Whittingdale.

Becoming the world’s leading data destination will boost growth and create jobs, he argued, adding the government will maintain high standards of data protection and governance,.

Highlighting some of the positives of information, the ministry said data was used quickly, efficiently and responsibly to model, predict and ultimately control the spread of coronavirus.

“Climate data from the Meteorological Office helped researchers around the world determine the link between seasonality and the transmission of the virus, while data sharing between healthcare trusts has helped develop faster treatment methods,” it added.