Quarkside

19/09/2010

Poor quality data exposed

Filed under: Assets,Innovation,Policy,Standards,Strategy — lenand @ 8:53 pm

The UK public sector has a poor record for the quality of information for reporting and decision-making.  Poor quality information reduces effectiveness and efficiency of services. When public bodies hold inaccurate, incomplete or out-dated data, avoidable tragedies result from poor decisions. The Soham murder and the death of Baby Peter are two examples. Poor information makes fraud easier, less detectable and enables other forms of cybercrime. Information should be fit for purpose and conform to requirements.

Quarkside notes that the public sector has quality defects in each type of information:

  • Operational data is often inaccurate, used out of context or misunderstood. It may be unsuitable for reuse or safe data sharing;
  • Reference data is not usable across agencies owing to non-standard formats, incomplete databases or different definitions for the same thing;
  • Largely as a result of ignoring the above, derived data is misleading, unobtainable or dangerous. The technology to do this effectively is not in common use in the public sector, especially for processing data from multiple agencies.

The coalition government is increasing the amount of public sector information in the public domain. Good information could improve confidence in public services. Poor information will definitely increase levels of mistrust. There are some good examples, such as in the detection of fraud, but these rarely hit the headlines. Parliamentarians, public servants and elected council members should demand high quality public sector information.

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