Data analytics for information sharing

New data-driven technologies create enormous opportunities but may also present some of the biggest risks related to the use of personal information. It is vital to ensure that the public are confident that any use of their information is both ethical and beneficial otherwise there is a real danger that they will reject or object to the use of their data whether anonymous or not.

The Government's National Data Strategy does make specific references to a very ambitious record linkage programme that will expand their use of data analytics.

One example is Policing and its use of predictive analytics, which are programmes that evaluate police data about past crimes to identify 'hot spots' of high risk on a map.

Practices that use historical data to analyse trends allow opportunities to work proactively and preventatively in areas such as Fuel Poverty and Health and Wellbeing. Early intervention will stop more costly acute and remedial intervention.

An Integrated Care System (ICS) Data Strategy is currently being developed jointly by Health, Local Authorities and the Police.

The public sector must be diligent about, and sensitive to, the ethical use of data but this does not mean it cannot happen.

Both the UK-GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 set out processes and procedures for automated decision-making, including profiling and organisations should check their local procedures before undertaking any processing.

Those checks should include, but are not limited to:

  • A Data Protection Impact Assessment before any sharing takes place
  • Anonymisation
  • Pseudonymization
  • Rights for data subjects, including the right to object, included in Privacy Notices

Data analytics, AI and the Multi Agency Information Sharing Protocol (MAISP)

The UK Government is planning for the UK's 'data estate' becoming an even more valuable national asset and is moving towards increased data sharing.

Here in Surrey, we already have and use, Surrey Online Data Analysis (SODA), which was launched in 2020 and is bringing together analytical skills across six strategic partner organisations seeking to address major challenges across all our public sector areas. The underlying principle behind information sharing in SODA is of 'a duty to share data unless there is a legal or ethical reason that prevents sharing'.

Remember, there is a difference between sharing truly anonymised data for research purposes and data that is being processed automatically for a defined outcome or research.

The MAISP can help by showing that any concerns have already been considered before the data was used.

The UK-GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 allows for the long-term retention of data for:

  • archiving purposes in the public interest
  • scientific or historical research purposes; or
  • statistical purposes