It's hard to go a day without hearing the word 'data'. We rely on data on a daily basis in all industries; media, education, technology, retail etc. We are all getting excited about the possibility of what data can do. We know the buzzwords; Analytics, Big Data, Data Visualisation and Data Science! But at the root of these buzzwords is the need for visible, authoritative, consistent data that we can rely on to gain insights to support missions and goals.
It's hard to miss the images of plastic waste in the media, with some of the statistics and pictures being both frightening and sickening. In 2015, the annual production of plastics increased to nearly 381 million tonnes, this is roughly equivalent to the mass of two-thirds of the world population. From a study conducted in 2010, it was estimated that 8 million tonnes of plastic entered the oceans with roughly 10,000 to 100,000s tonnes of plastic in surface waters (Our World in Data).
It was announced this week that the Gov.UK Verify had fallen short of its target of 25 million users by 2020, only securing 3.6 million so far. With a current spend of £154m on Verify, the government is due to stop funding it from April 2020, handing operations over to the private sector. So what is Verify and how did it fail?
The fourth industrial revolution is about the acceleration of technology and digitisation. More and more companies are becoming equipped with the technology to make their job easier. Within the Government departments, the Met Police have introduced predictive policing and facial technology to tackle crime. HMRC have introduced a self-assessment platform for tax online, so instead of the long queues on the phone you can do it solo. The Department of Work and Pensions introduced an auto-enrolment scheme where citizens are automatically included unless they opt out. None of these above examples would've been possible without the innovation and technological advancement of the 21st century.
Big Data has many wonderful opportunities, some a little advanced for our current infrastructure but may become an everyday reality in a few years. Think of driverless cars or augmented and mixed reality, we are starting to embrace these new concepts but will be another 10 years before they really 'take over the world'. One opportunity that we see disseminating across the world is the use of data for 'Smart Cities'.
“Do unto the data of others as you would have them do unto yours".
Imagine the possibility of preventing a fatal offence. This happens more commonly than the public are aware of, all thanks to technology. One example of crime prevention- in 2015, a teenager in England was taken into care after it was revealed he had been researching gun types and nearby school locations to possibly carry out a school shooting. Authorities were able to intervene as the teenager had been flagged as a vulnerable threat.