1. Data mission

All of our work at the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is guided by the UK Statistics Authority’s data mission: “to mobilise the power of data to help Britain make better decisions”.

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2. Strategic objectives

The over-arching direction and approach of our Data Strategy is guided by this data mission. In order to achieve this mission, we have set the following strategic objectives:

Enable data integration for statistical and research purposes

In order to draw better insights from the data we acquire, we are continuously working to develop high quality re-usable data linkage methods that will enable us to find patterns and to combine the resources of all the datasets the ONS holds. We are also building research environments with appropriate technology and tools to facilitate this and training staff in new methods and technologies.

Enable better geospatial analysis

We are working to improve our framework of territorial units, boundaries and maps that provide the structure for collection, processing, storing and aggregating data. We have a range of products that support the use of geography in the statistical process such as open geography, which is a framework that provides the definitive source of geographic products, tools and services.

Maintain and manage standardised datasets

To ensure consistency and the re-use of data that we acquire and generate, we validate and standardise datasets to make sure they conform to common definitions. Standardising data includes ensuring that data items have the same meaning wherever they appear and that the allowed values are applied consistently. Furthermore, using consistent data identifiers across all datasets held by the ONS allows datasets from different sources to be linked together, and this allows new insights to be derived from the data.

Enhance metadata management capabilities

We are working on bringing a central comprehensive metadata capability to our data estate. This includes work on the central data catalogue, which utilises semantic technologies and provides comprehensive data discoverability functions for the users as well as a semantics-based ONS Business Glossary. We are also developing a comprehensive metadata governance framework to support this change. We have also been working with our partners across the government departments to standardise the way we share metadata and what metadata we should consistently capture.

Implement a Reference Data Management Framework

As the volume and variety of data handled by the ONS increases, we have developed a comprehensive data management solution called the Reference Data Management Framework (RDMF). This is the ONS’s solution for the processing, management and linkage of data. The RDMF will make sure that we maximise the benefit of the standardisation, transparency and consistency of data.

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3. Data Management Framework

These strategic objectives set out the over-arching direction of our Data Strategy. These objectives are underpinned by a framework that manages and governs our data practices and ensures we protect data and meet our legal obligations – it is called the Data Management Framework.

The Data Management Framework is made up of Data Principles, Data Policies and Data Standards:

  • Data Principles are high-level principles that define the scope and path of data management, from when it enters the ONS, through to publication, as well as data protection practices
  • Data Policies are statements of intent that support the Data Principles and are implemented across the ONS as a procedure or protocol
  • Data Standards are mandatory rules that define how we carry out our statistical and business activities
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