Briefing paper: UK government must support data sharing and open data in transport

To mark the launch of a briefing paper on data sharing and open data in transport, commissioned by Transport Systems Catapult, ODI COO Louise Burke outlines how government can support integrated, efficient and sustainable transport systems

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Data is fundamentally changing the way people and things move around the world. New technologies such as the web, Internet of Things devices and crowdsourcing tools have made collecting data easier and cheaper. The data being collected plays a key role in many of the innovative products and services that will change how people and freight move around – such as autonomous cars, tickets that work for trains and taxis, end-to-end freight tracking and real-time journey planners.

However, collecting data is not enough. Data must be shared and made open, while respecting the privacy of individuals, in order to maximise its impact on the economy, society and the environment.

To achieve a vision of ‘Intelligent Mobility’ – seamless journeys using efficient and sustainable transport systems – we must build a robust data infrastructure. Doing this first in the UK will allow us to capture a sizeable portion of the global market for Intelligent Mobility services, estimated by the Transport Systems Catapult at £900bn per year by 2025.

Today, the Transport Systems Catapult has launched a briefing paper it commissioned from the ODI and Deloitte. The paper explores the current barriers to data sharing and open data publishing and what the government should do to help incentivise business to overcome them. In it we have identified some of the most significant barriers faced by transport organisations in publishing, sharing and accessing data.

  • The fear of privacy, security and safety breaches
  • The belief that the costs outweigh the benefits
  • The focus of organisations on delivering their own services – ignoring how they align with the wider transport system and the needs of passengers

The effect of each of these barriers is amplified by a lack of data literacy, which we characterise as awareness of the role data sharing and open data can play in delivering transport services. A lack of data literacy among decision makers means they are often unable to recognise the benefits of sharing or opening data, and are therefore unlikely to invest.

Through our research, we estimate that without additional UK Government incentives to overcome these barriers, the UK economy will capture £14bn less in expected benefits from new mobility solutions over the next 10 years. This translates to poorer services and fewer jobs for UK citizens, as well as lower productivity and economic growth. It will also result in the UK falling behind international competitors – reducing foreign investment and export potential.

How the government can support Intelligent Mobility with data

The government must take action to work with industry to enable better data sharing and more open data to be published. The position paper recommends that government:

  • establishes a Mobility Data Hub that will act as a neutral voice to promote data sharing and open data publishing by providing guidance on how to share and make data open while addressing privacy, security, safety and commercial concerns

  • consults industry on how fiscal incentives and public procurement rules could be used to improve data sharing and open data publishing

  • launches three pathfinder projects to demonstrate how shared and open data can be used to solve existing transport challenges at a reasonable cost and joined up across different transport modes

  • continues to lead by example in publishing open data, training civil servants in data literacy and creating standard, replicable terms for data sharing agreements

By taking all the above steps by 2020, we believe the government can ensure the UK remains at the forefront of transport – capturing the benefits for citizens, businesses and economy.

Download a copy of the full report.

Louise Burke is Chief Operating Officer at the ODI

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