GovWire

Detailed guide: Manage your data for access and reuse

Government Digital Service

November 27
11:08 2020

You should manage your data as an asset that is independent of any technology or service. This will involve using data standards to help you store your data so other government organisations can find and reuse it.

You will need to manage your data differently if it relates to personal or sensitive information. You must carefully consider data security and data protection issues. Read the Technology Code of Practice (TCoP) for:

Record how your data contributes to your estate

Your organisation will have an Information Asset Register holding details of all your information assets. You should make sure you store details of your data in the register and review these records as your data sets and systems evolve.

Read the ICO guidance for more information on how you should manage your Information Asset Registers. You should speak to your organisations Chief Data Officer if you cannot find your Information Asset Register owner.

Adding your data record will make sure it is discoverable and accessible within your organisation, and to other relevant parts of government. The data record will also give your organisation an overview of its data estate so it is clear where you have duplicated or siloed data.

You should follow the metadata standards when recording your data in the Information Asset Register. This record could contain:

  • licences that might govern your data reuse or access
  • contact details for your data asset
  • reference data you might have sourced from elsewhere
  • information about your database or data file
  • the contract governing how your service data is collected, maintained or shared
  • APIs giving access to your database or underlying data repository

Record what data youre sharing

To understand which data sets in your organisation are the most useful and valuable, you should keep a record of what data is shared externally.

You can also use your organisations Information Asset Register, or internal Data Sharing Catalogue, to store the record of what data you share externally. Speak to your Chief Data Officer to find out whether your organisation is following a central or federated approach to managing these records.

This record will also help your organisation realise its data maturity, and help with data reuse. For example, your record might include:

  • what data youve shared and why youre sharing it
  • the data sharing agreement that governs the sharing - these tend to govern higher value data sets
  • how others access the data - if you are providing access to data through an API, this should be added to the government API catalogue
  • which data standards the data sets use, for example the date standard ISO8601 or the metadata standards schema.org - this will only be useful if you can keep the record up to date

Provide access to your database in a standard format

Your technology or service team will often need to present data to users in the right structure for them to easily use, such as through an application or web page. You will also have an underlying database that contains the raw data your application or web page uses.

Make sure your organisation can directly access data from this underlying database in a format that meets government technology and data standards. This access will help your organisation reuse data in new services, and analyse it more easily. It will also help reduce duplication of your data source.

One way your organisation can provide this access to the database easily is by using a modular approach to your architecture.

When youre buying or changing databases, you should talk to your technical leadership forum or design authority to make sure you are not duplicating data across your organisation.

Use open data standards in your data management

When managing your data, you should use data standards recommended by the Open Standards Board. The Data Standards Authority also endorses them.

This will help you record data in a consistent way to other government teams, and make sure you can share your data easily and securely.

You can read the open standards for government data and technology collection page to see standards recommended for use across government.

You can also use the GitHub repository of the Data Standards Authority and the GitHub repository of the Open Standards Board to see potential future data standards recommendations.

Published 27 November 2020

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