The UK Government Pledge £500,000 Towards Software Development


by Lara Fox

How Midata provide better information and protects consumers

MIdataIn May of 2015, The Department for Business Innovation and Skills announced a £500,000 deal to be invested in the government ‘Midata’ scheme. The investment is hoped to assist small software developers, who are creating innovative ways to solve problems concerning areas ranging from health to social care, energy to personal finance. This will benefit the customer who will be more aware of the options available to them. A small guide to Midata, as well as how investing in it can help, is outlined below.

This week the Liberal Democrats have included MiData in their manifesto, stating that they will: “Continue and expand the midata project into new sectors, giving consumers the right to access data businesses hold on them in an open and reusable format.”

What is Midata?

Launched in 2011 by the current UK government, Midata was intended to help provide better information and protection for consumers. Effectively, information is provided more freely from the businesses and regulators who hold them to those the information concerns.

Jo Swinson, the Consumer Affairs Minister, has declared how Midata will give the consumer more control over their personal data. And this will be achieved by allowing the consumer to use the Midata programme to access the data ‘companies hold about them in a portable, machine-readable format’. This can then be used to better compare and choose between the various options available in various consumer fields, according to the data.

How the investment helps developers

To progress in all fields, we need to find new and innovative ways to deal with the problems we face in various industries. For example, many of the problems encountered in the health and social care industry could be counteracted by better analysis of the data gathered here. This will be done so by creating apps and tools. And this is where developers come in. They will incorporate the data into these programmes, and by doing so can potentially improve care and save unnecessary waste of money.

This £500,000 will go directly towards funding two ‘pit stops’. These pit stops are two days, and, across them, developers will use data which isn’t real to see how they could theoretically share data more easily between different services. Eventually this will be rolled out to include real data, with the pit stops providing the perfect test ground to ensure success.

As Neil Crockett, CEO of the Digital Catapult, warns, many people are hesitant about their data being shared or used incorrectly by data-owners. And, similarly, these data owners are ‘reluctant to release closed data in case it is misused or leaked’. However, he hopes these trial days will help people realise their fears are unnecessary, and that data liquidity is important to our economy. And if they’re successful, the country will be far happier to get behind an expansion of the scheme.

It seems that in a world increasingly built around hard data and mass consumption, the best way to progress our understanding of consumer behaviour and improve upon it, is to utilise this information. And whilst still early days, the signs are there that Midata could significantly benefit the country in health and social care, as well as many other fields. Hopefully this £500,000 investment will allow the developers to invest in more innovative and effective programmes to assist with the nation’s needs.

Essex County Council and Privacy

Essex County Council has this year published a page explaining how they manage personal information. They say: “Essex County Council is committed to protecting your privacy when you use council services.”

Why does Essex County Council use personal information?

They may need to use some information about you to:
  • deliver services and support to you;
  • manage services;
  • train workers;
  • help investigate any worries or complaints you have about your services;
  • keep track of spending on services;
  • check the quality of services; and
  • help with research and planning of new services.

Their page also states that “you also have the right to ask for all the information we have about you”. They appear to be embracing the Midata policy well and leading by example.

Lara FoxLara Fox is the Head of Digital at Objective IT in Essex. A product of the Internet Age and a student at the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Lara is the modern face of Objective and coordinates the company’s social media presence.

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