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Enhancing infrastructure through data

- March 23, 2018 10:54 am

Did you know that more data was generated during 2017 than the previous 5,000 years? Or that by 2020, 1.7 megabytes of data will be produced every second of every day, for every human being?

In the UK alone, 150 million machine-to-machine devices are continually generating data. And as this number is set to rise to 350 million in 2021, data production will also continue to increase.

As you’d expect, most data is created online, with the number of internet users growing by 42% between 2014 and 2017.  From the first wave of the Web, which led to communication and connectivity on a scale never previously envisaged, to the second phase which saw the rise of e-commerce, the current chapter sees machine learning and analytics convert data into a valuable commodity that can transform industry, governments and communities.

Making data meaningful

Data for the Public Good, a report by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) explores the potential for machine learning and other forms of AI to transform infrastructure by making data available to support decision making, improve efficiency and cut costs. Smart meters for example, can lower energy usage and pollution levels, while public transport and roads information can benefit both industry and commuter while also reducing emissions.

There is a caveat however; data is only valuable to the infrastructure industry if it is accurate, accessible and secure – and will only be useful if organisations adapt to this new world of big data and analytics.

With so much information flowing from so many sources, it will be difficult to mandate any specific approaches to data aggregation, yet it’s vital that data is well-managed, normalised, and subject to appropriate standards; the greater the data availability and interoperability, the greater its possible benefits.

Solutions, skills and frameworks

National infrastructure can only truly benefit from this data proliferation if the right framework is in place; one that is secure, proportionate, flexible and encourages data sharing between organisations. At the same time, public and private sector organisations must act responsibility and ensure data is processed and used in accordance with legal requirements.

All of the above will require industry involvement; companies that can extract and combine information from disparate sources. It also calls for people with the right skills to interpret data, which is where I see potential opportunities for the UK’s many start-ups and scale-ups, in addition to established IT players.

Establishing international data links

What does that all this mean for the UK, as we get ready to leave the EU? Firstly, it’s vital that we remain committed to international data regulations, including GDPR, which imposes strict data privacy obligations on companies and organisations operating within the EU. Check out our GDPR Facebook Live for more information:

‪We’re LIVE again for #CybersecurityAwarenessMonth and this week we’re demystifying GDPR and data privacy with a few of our experts outside the Houses of Parliament!

Posted by Cisco on Tuesday, October 10, 2017

We also need to ensure data can flow internationally. This could be achieved through data adequacy agreements with the EU and other major trading partners such as the USA. These could then provide a platform for the UK to develop further and potentially establish itself as a world leader in data policy; one which advocates and facilitates stronger international consistency.

Align and agree

With the right regulations and framework, the benefits of data accessibility and usage could continue to grow, alongside the UK’s role in international data policy.

At the same time, this data expertise could also be harnessed to support our national infrastructure, as outlined in the NIC report, reducing costs, increasing productivity and enhancing public services.

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