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COVID-19: Remobilising the Nation using a trusted Personal Data Mobility Framework

Posted on: Monday 8th of June 2020

Before our population can be vaccinated, data and digital technologies will be at the heart of our efforts to contain the virus and deliver the health and economic interventions needed to support those impacted.  Today the public discussion centres on the NHS “Track and Trace” App. This App has already attracted some unfortunate and challenging press coverage. Yet it is just one digital intervention amongst the many that will be needed. Ultimately digital COVID-19 “pathways” will need to be rolled out, addressing multiple application areas across society.

The current  narrow focus on Track and Trace means that there is a real danger of the broader benefits of a data enabled remobilisation strategy being lost through public misunderstanding and suspicion.  Public sentiment toward the use of personal data is twitchy to say the least.  This is understandable given media coverage and the well-articulated and appropriate concerns of civil liberties groups and campaigners.  The current lack of a clear overarching Covid-19 data strategy from the Government is not helping, leaving a hole that needs to be filled quickly.

At the heart of government strategy should be a recognition of the potential power and value of trusted Personal Data Mobility. This is relevant across government and government agencies such as the NHS, charities, businesses and society as a whole.  Not State snooping but a robustly regulated, Government-led mobilisation of decentralised, data-led services that inform, protect and enable the safe remobilisation of society and the economy.

The core principle of Personal Data Mobility is that it puts the individual firmly in control and enables them to access their data from multiple organisations (Data Partners).  They can safely create value through the decentralised and consented use of their data, via a Personal Data Management Service in multiple data-enabled services – services which help citizens make better-informed decisions more easily in an increasingly complex post-Covid 19 society.

By enabling personal data to flow safely, efficiently, and sustainably this trusted Personal Data Mobility infrastructure will support the rapid deployment and adoption of trusted data-enabled services and support confident remobilisation across the nation.

A strategic Data Mobility Framework needs to be developed quickly if personal data dependent services are to be rapidly deployed and accepted by citizens in sufficient numbers to succeed, and the trusted use of personal data is to be leveraged more widely in the remobilisation of the nation.

We believe that Personal Data Mobility can enable individuals to make valuable use of their personal data safely, whilst driving direct benefits to society and the economy.  Ctrl-Shift has collaborated extensively with UK Government, Regulators and industry to develop trusted Personal Data Mobility which is now widely recognised within Government (BEIS, DCMS, HMT) and Blue Chip businesses. And it is also an objective stated in the EU’s Data Strategy.  The point is, it’s not a new proposition but it is certainly a proposition whose time has most definitely arrived.

Because data-enabled remobilisation responses to the COVID-19 crisis rely strongly on the use of personal data, this is a critical moment when trusted Personal Data Mobility can be used to accelerate and de-risk their speed and impact.  

A Data Mobility Framework will unlock the value in personal data by putting the Citizen at the heart of the data ecosystem. This framework combines governance models and personal data management processes and technologies, to enable solutions that embody the privacy, transparency and security needed to gain citizens’ trust and engagement.

Digital solutions are contingent on the processing of personal data. If the public decide not to adopt those solutions due to privacy concerns or if accessing the range of data required is complicated , this critical work will not be successful.

Today these solutions are seen as addressing siloed problems, demanding point solutions. Building dozens of siloed services and asking our citizens to gather their data for each individually, while offering uncertain guarantees about privacy, is, in or opinion, a recipe for failure.

Ctrl-Shift has set out an initial approach that could support the development of personal data mobilisation strategies for any national government looking to mobilise data effectively in the fight against the Coronavirus.  We are delighted to share an introduction to this with Data IQ Community.

It is our belief that if adopted, the UK has an opportunity to lead the world in the effective use of trusted personal data both as a counter to the restraints this pandemic has placed on societies globally, and in unlocking entirely new forms of value for people, societies and economies.  But most urgently, we will have a far better chance of successfully and safely remobilising the UK economy and helping our Nation towards a greater degree of normality.

Liz Brandt

CEO, Ctrl-Shift