Office for National Statistics (ONS) has seen an increase in the demand for ad hoc insights alongside traditional statistics, with a substantial increase in the variety and volume of data available.
Alongside this, our new powers obtained through the Digital Economy Act (2017) offer unprecedented opportunity for us to gain access to new and different sources of data. We are responding by developing the right data capability, governance and management framework, which balances the need to extract value from data against the appropriate safeguards.
These pages provide an overview of how we use, manage and keep data secure. Official statistics are for the benefit of society and the economy, and help Britain to make better decisions. They allow the formulation of better public policy and the effective measurement of those policies. They inform the direction of economic and commercial activities. They provide valuable information for analysts, researchers, public and voluntary bodies. They enable the public to hold to account all organisations that spend public money, thus informing democratic debate.
However, the world is changing. The increasing volume and variety of data available, coupled with rapid technological development will facilitate the processing and analysis of more data in richer and more complex forms. The ability to harness the power of data is critical in enabling official statistics to support the most important decisions facing the country.
This opportunity brings added challenges; in using the increasingly varied sources of data available, we must also ensure that we continue to protect and secure data. Our aim is to deliver the data and statistics needed to serve the public good, and at the same time assure citizens and businesses that they can trust us to safeguard their data. We are doing this by developing a comprehensive framework to define, manage and govern our data practices, enabling us to use data to inform better decision making, and at the same time ensure that the data are protected and secure, carefully managing access to the data for statistics and research purposes, taking responsibility for the ethical use of this data and always working in the public interest.