To deliver Defra’s new strategy we will make Defra data driven. We will do this because sharing our data, ways of working and technology will drive better results for Defra and the sectors we care about.
The Environment Secretary is passionate about data and is committed to making Defra data driven. At the recent Open Data Institute conference on the future of agriculture she spoke about how she believes sharing and using data can boost UK farming and help feed the world:
What are we doing?
We want to transform the way Defra works by making 4 major changes across the Defra group:
1. Making better use of data
We already make extensive use of data across the Defra group. To deliver Defra's strategy to 2020, we will change the way we work so that we can make much greater use of data. For example:
- The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) policy team and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) are already exploring how using Earth Observation data will enable us to reduce the CAP disallowance and the number of farm inspection visits.
- Natural England make open data publically available to help developers assess the impacts developments will have on our most special natural places. This helps developers and local authorities reduce the costs of planning applications.
We are promoting our data externally, by supporting programmes like the Geovation Challenge to drive growth and innovation in the tech and environmental industries.
2. Making Defra open by default
We will make as much of our data as possible open data. This means anyone will be able to reuse our data, enabling it to be used in new ways to drive growth in the sectors we care about. To kick this off we have committed to opening up 8,000 datasets by summer 2016.
As a result we are already seeing innovative uses:
- Campaign to Protect Rural England has used our Strategic Noise Level Data to produce maps that help people understand the impact of noise on nature.
- Environment Agency’s LIDAR data has been used to find lost Roman Roads.
- A smart-watch app has been developed which shows the quality of nearby bathing waters
- Gamers have added LIDAR to Minecraft, creating realistic virtual worlds
- OpenStreetMap community is exploring how the data can improve their maps of the real world.
3. Developing our skills & our people
So we can make better use of data and be open by default we are working across the Defra group to improve data literacy and expert skills.
Everyone needs to think about the data skills they have and need, and how to develop these. This will help us to ensure that our policies and services are based on the best data available and that we are working with data in an ethical fashion.
4. Building the right tools
We already have lots of tools for working with data and a raft of policies to control our data, and we are reviewing and transforming these by working closely with data users to understand what they need.
We are prioritising improvements to our data analytics tools and our core geographic information infrastructure . We are also investing in emerging technologies and how they can be used to support our work.
How are we doing this?
We have set up a Defra Data Programme. The programme is being run by a highly experienced core team drawn from across the Defra group and most organisations and teams across the group now have a data lead and some have set up data projects.
Working in the open
You may be wondering why this staff communication is on the internet not the intranet!
We have committed to work in the open on data. We hope this will encourage people to engage with us and in the long term help us build a stronger more user focused approach to data use and sharing.
- Please get together in your teams to talk about what this means for you:
- Discuss how you use data in your team
- Think about what data do you have and how will you make it open data
- Explore how you could make better use of data
- Please subscribe to this blog and follow the #OpenDefra story on twitter
- Explore our data on DATA.GOV.UK
- For help or further information please contact us