DfT discusses its plans for data strategy and standards

25/09/2019

At the recent Transport Data Initiative (TDI) forum, representatives from The Department of Transport (DfT) spoke about how it has been working towards its own data strategy and producing its own data standards. 

Data Strategy

The Department for Transport’s (DfT) head of developing data unit, Giuseppe Sollazzo spoke about what the DfT deemed to be the biggest barriers to using data. Those barriers are; legal and contractual, cultural, competition and lack of skills and knowledge about data.

Mr Sollazzo continued to say that with these challenges in mind, The DfT decided to carry out some research in order to try and tackle them. The DfT spoke to over 400 data users and monitored their journeys to determine how they source and use their data, as well as the difficulties the overcome. The outcomes of the research determined that wider collaboration with external organisations is needed and that "internally there is a strong feeling that we (the DfT) need to invest more in our position as a leader, whether that is in data sharing, data collaboration or data publishing," said Mr Sollazzo. The conducted research also lead to the DfT collating a list of five thematic areas that will inform their future data strategy. Those areas are:


  • Users needs and communications


  • Data governance, protection and ethics


  • Sharing discoverable data


  • Data standard


  • Skills, culture and leadership


Mr Sollazzo said that the DfT is set to have the final draft of its data strategy by October and hopes to have a finalised version of the strategy, ready to publish, by the end of the year.

Nikolai Petrou, data strategy and analytics consultant of PA Consulting, questioned the audience for the DfT’s interactive segment. What sort of role the DfT should take when it comes to data strategy was put to the audience of local and transport authorities. The answers indicated that audience members thought that the DfT should both provide funding to join up transport data and build skills, and build a culture of data sharing in the transport industry.

Data Standards

Matt Coleman, head of data policy at the DfT, spoke about why it commissioned the BSI Group to look into UK data standards and stated that it wants to "understand the truth" surrounding current standards. The compiling of research to inform 'Data Exchange Standards for the Future of Mobility', the BSI Group conducted surveys to see if current data standard practices are fit for purpose. Mr Coleman said that the research was especially important due to ever-changing future mobility. He also said that whilst the DfT does intend to publish its findings, there is no set date as of yet to do so.

Keiran Millard, business development manager at BSI Group said that, "future mobility is hindered by current data standards" and that in order to create a functional and fit-for-purpose standard, different communities such as, MaaS, Last Mile and CAV, need to pull together.
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