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Report of the Digital Government Review

2. Shared data

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“Restricted data provided to restricted organisations or individuals for restricted purposes.”

We now come to shared data, or “data sharing” as the process underpinning it is sometimes called.

Shared data is not open for everyone to reuse. It is information provided to a restricted group of organisations or individuals for a restricted purpose. Typically these restrictions are because the data contains sensitive personal data regarding identifiable individuals.

It is important to understand that data sharing is used:

  • Within and between public sector bodies, for example DWP share data with local authorities to validate electoral address registrations
  • On an individual level between public sector bodies and other organisations delivering individual public services, for example a local authority might share data on a specific individual with a third sector organisation to enable social care services to be delivered
  • On an individual level between public sector bodies and other organisations. For example to allow beneficial academic research into educational outcomes

The following examples illustrate something of the breadth of shared data’s usage, and its potential benefits if successfully and securely achieved.

Use Case


Potential Benefits

Educational research (National Pupil Database) [51] Pupils, grant-maintained schools, DfE, universities, exam bodies Improved educational outcomes for children
Integrated health and social care Patients, NHS trusts, local authorities, DH, other organisations delivering health/social care services Improved healthcare adults for all citizens
Troubled Families [52] People, DCLG, Local Authorities, Police Turning around the lives of the most troubled families
MyLicence [53] Drivers, DVLA, insurance industry, comparison websites Reduced insurance fraud, leading to reduced insurance costs
Figure 5 – Uses of shared data

From the above, we hope that it will be clear to most readers that data sharing is not something that should or could be completely stopped. In fact, our expectation is that data sharing initiatives will only increase as many data sharing use cases provide real value for people by providing both better and cheaper public services.

Yet there are both significant issues and concerns to be dealt with around data sharing.

To understand these we need to consider the areas of anonymity, security, public trust, legislation – and who benefits from data sharing.

[51]The National Pupil Database is limited by solely including grant-maintained schools. This means that free schools are not easily included in educational research studies.

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