Chris Huggett, Senior Vice President, EMEA & India at Sungard AS, discusses how sovereign public cloud is starting to transform the public sector
Over the course of the last year, the UK Government approved more than £80 billion in budget to cover 41 major transformation programmes across 10 departments and one public body organisation.
The majority of these were specifically intended to support the launch of new digital services, ranging from the Home Office’s £145 million Smarter Working Programme, designed to improve workspaces, technology and operations, to HM Courts & Tribunals Service’s £1.65 billion Reform Programme, intended to transform the courts’ service including making more cases digital.
Spending £100m an hour or £28,000/second, is an immense responsibility for the public sector. How it chooses to distribute an approximately £817 billion annual budget impacts the country’s entire population.
Deciding how to truly maximise value is an essential component to success. Under the current political landscape, wrong decisions will be mercilessly scrutinised by the media and electorate.
Up until recently, most decisions have been made without the use of new technology such as machine learning and AI, powered by the public cloud, which the commercial sector has been doing for a decade.
This has been due to the legal limitations of using sensitive data in such clouds. Through the process of this changing, the public sector has been able to secure access to the public cloud to process and store an increasing amount of its data.
Providing a platform to better manage and use information will create a launchpad for innovation within the public sector. It’s an opportunity that will ultimately work to improve the sector’s ability to provide services to the UK’s population.
That being said, there’s one big hurdle to overcome here – trust. Recently, the number of customer data breaches have shot up exponentially, shaking the public’s overall trust in the personal information they hand over.
What’s more, the latest survey from the Information Commissioner’s Office found that approximately one in three (34%) of us have trust and confidence in companies and organisations that store and use our personal data. Data-savvy citizens and the demand for more transparency have choked the public sector’s ability to capitalise upon the opportunities that public cloud can offer.
We expect, even demand, the public sector to be incredibly diligent with our data. Unsurprisingly there is legislation in place to ensure that data with a level of sensitivity is both properly protected and kept sovereign by virtue of it remaining within the UK and only accessible by British citizens.
The arrival of new sovereign public cloud services like our own that allows the public sector to store Sensitive and Official Sensitive data on the public cloud is breaking down that barrier to adoption.
Providing the public sector with the ability to capitalise upon a secure, legally compliant public cloud means it can innovate at the same pace as industry and drives better decision making. Put into practice, these things could have huge benefits across the public sector.
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Making the call
Organisations with access to broader, larger data sets can make better decisions and all of this can be handled much more affordably in the public cloud.
Decision-making processes such as where to build roads, hospitals and schools, through to identifying where to increase policing levels, even military deployments, can rapidly take into account a huge variety of disparate data.
This creates insights that simply cannot be derived any other way in an acceptable timeframe or at acceptable cost. Ultimately, this can make the UK safer, better educated and healthier.
Also of interest: Confident communications in a regulated world
In the driving seat
The information stored by the DVLA includes a huge amount of confidential data about the UK’s population and on the nation’s vehicles. With 8,500 cameras recording approximately 35 million number plates every day the possibility exists of being able to more quickly identify the location of a stolen vehicle.
However, using techniques similar to the way banks identify fraudulent transactions, combining known data about the vehicle’s owner, other insured drivers and the vehicle’s information and location, it may be possible to identify a possible theft having happened even before the owner realises it has taken place. Imagine how that could reduce car thefts and lower insurance premiums.
Also of interest: Education is the key to the data security lock
Prevention not cures
The ability to look at diverse data sets, including sensitive patient data, could unleash a revolution in healthcare enabling advanced preventative medicine.
Taking into account what the NHS already knows about its patients and adding it to other data such as that from the increasing adoption of wearable tech, we are approaching the point of being able to identify possible health scares for citizens with a considerable level of accuracy.
The impact on the population and possible cost savings for the ever-strained NHS are considerable.
There is so much value to be gleaned from the huge volume of data that the public sector holds. In fact, given the amount of insights that could be generated from such a rich data source, the ability to harness it could have an incredibly positive societal impact.
This is just the tip of a very big iceberg that is increasingly visible thanks to new sovereign public cloud technologies.