In order to keep society safe and secure, the UK Government relies on access to trustworthy and readily available data. Critical data and analytics are required to identify organised crime groups, people traffickers, drug smugglers and other threats to society. This data works to ensure that people and freight movements are lawful, and activities such as controlling visas and immigration are compliant. 

Many mission critical decisions around safety and security need to be made in seconds, requiring accurate data to be available at the right time, from a number of data sources. The variety and complexity of UK Government data requirements present challenges: the time and cost to on-board new data sources and the need to rapidly share information across the organisation to support time-critical decision making. 

Accelerating capability – more data, faster

Effective data sourcing and acquisition is the foundation of any enterprise-scale data and analytics initiative. The UK Government Data Services & Analytics (DSA) department is executing a strategic initiative to become the leading provider of data insight services for Government.  

A key part of this strategy is bringing together the best talent from across the UK Government, the hiring of industry expertise, and the adoption of leading data and analytics practices, from both public and private sectors, to transform DSA capabilities.

Delivered in late 2019, one of the capabilities resulting from this strategy is an enterprise-scale data ingestion service, enabling the acquisition of a variety of data from UK Government, cross government and commercial sources to accelerated timescales.

The data ingestion capability delivers two principle functions to facilitate the acquisition and availability of data: 

  1. A dedicated data onboarding function, managing the demand, governance and connectivity for new data sources. This includes assurance processes that encompass both technical, security and data protection considerations.
  2. A platform to acquire, validate and store data as a system of record, made available to multiple consumers for early analytical discovery and processing at up to real-time speeds. In addition, the platform converts data into the UK Government domain model for streaming access in a standardised form.

The service operates in a secure public cloud environment, with associated cost savings and scalability benefits.

What difference has this made?

Access to more data sources, delivered at greater speed, with higher accuracy, and improved quality. This directly benefits society by providing more trustworthy information to enable accurate and timely decisions to be made and provide improved public services. 

Benefits delivered by the DSA enterprise ingestion capability include:

  1. Time to land a new data source of medium complexity has been reduced from 7 months to 2 months.
  2. Systems that were previously updated once a week, are now updated in near real-time.
  3. Several data sources that the UK Government has been unable to acquire previously have landed this year.
  4. Costs of onboarding of data source have been reduced by over 50%.

As a result of DSA’s strategic initiative, the UK Government now has reliable access to a number of trustworthy data sources with the ability to acquire data sources quickly and efficiently. 

The DSA strategic data ingestion service is helping the UK Government to adapt to rapidly evolving threats and to effectively protect the citizens of UK.