What can we learn from the UK's National Data Strategy

4 minute read

In response to the great technological changes that have taken place over the past five years, the UK’s National Data Strategy outlines the UK Government's plan to invest in data to strengthen the economy and create future opportunities.

As part of the strategy, the Government commits to the development of a clear policy framework that will determine what interventions are needed to unlock the value and power of data across the economy and help propel the UK forward in its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

It is imperative, as this strategy begins to take shape, that it is monitored and examined by global audiences, who can borrow from the framework to excel their own optimization of data and work together to achieve a global interoperable data sharing system.

The strategy

Having recognized that the future lies in data, which will ultimately power businesses and the economy, the strategy proposed is one of data-fueled growth.

The strategy is divided into three separate steps – pillars of effective data use, priority areas of action, and opportunities. Each step builds upon the last to drive data use that is “more secure, more innovative, and more widely recognized as a force for good”.

Comprising of a number of interconnected issues that are currently preventing the best use of data in the UK, the pillars include foundations, skills, availability, and the need for responsible data use.

Throughout the strategy, responsible data use is highly prioritized. The issue of data privacy is a sensitive area that requires significant thought and action. Preserving trust and using data sensibly are key factors for ensuring a data-driven future.

From these pillars, the strategy identifies five missions which address ongoing challenges and, ultimately, have the potential to improve how data is utilized in today’s society:

1. Unlocking the value of data across the economy

2. Maintaining a pro-growth and trusted data regime

3. Transforming the Government’s use of data

4. Ensuring the security and resilience of data infrastructure

5. Championing the international flow of data

By addressing these issues and transforming how data is used across public, private, and voluntary sectors, a number of significant opportunities open up. These opportunities, according to the strategy, lie in the areas of growth, jobs, public service, research, and society.



Impact of the construction industry

The construction industry and the Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Operation (AECO) sector is referred to throughout the strategy, showcasing how the industry is already a front runner in data use. It highlights how data is being utilized in a mutually beneficial manner, including for the use of digital twins and the growth of data skills and machine learning in the sector.

When discussing the need for data foundations and the adoption of standards, the construction industry is again positively highlighted for its widespread use of BIM. However, the strategy does discuss the low use of BIM amongst SMEs, highlighting how smaller organizations struggle to adopt standards and utilize data.

If not corrected, this struggle could be seen across the wider economy and society following the introduction of the UK’s data strategy. This low uptake of BIM is something that needs to be addressed both in the construction industry and by the strategy before implementation.

Furthermore, the construction industry is highlighted as a leader in the utilization of data through the Centre for Digital Built Britain, a partnership between the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the University of Cambridge to understand how the construction and infrastructure sectors could use a digital approach to better design, build, operate, and integrate the built environment.

Their ‘National Digital Twin Programme’ works with future users and early adopters of digital twins to develop an information management framework to connect digital twins to deliver benefit to all.

Reference to this initiative demonstrates how value can be derived from data, specifically data that spans the private and public sectors. In this vein, the strategy states that it will ensure an aligned approach when deriving value from assets, and it will seek to support the future infrastructure required for emerging technologies, including smart cities.



Global data sharing and the construction industry

As outlined in the strategy document, the UK is aiming to position itself internationally to influence the global approach to data sharing and use, including committing to the creation of an independent international data transfer capability, encouraging the international flow of information across borders.

The construction industry is, unfortunately, hampered by the nature of supply chain relationships, which are fragmented, uncoordinated, and based on one-off projects and temporary arrangements. The introduction of a proposed method of transferring data internationally, transcending borders and organizations, could have a hugely beneficial impact on the industry.

As discussed in Asite’s report ‘Digital Engineering: Optimizing Construction’s Digital Future', in order for the industry to optimize its performance and reap the rewards digital tools and technologies, it needs an interoperable method of data sharing and interpretation.

The development of an independent international data transfer system opens up the industry and allows for the creation of an integrated global platform that can be easily interpreted across regions, thus allowing the industry to capitalize on the existing data and creating the optimal conditions for digital engineering to transform the AECO sector.


Next steps

In an effort to ensure all factors are considered in a “deliberate and evidence-driven way”, the UK Government is entering a phase of consultation, working with stakeholders from a cross-section of society to finetune the framing and core principles of the strategy.

This presents an opportunity for those within the construction industry, who meet the consultation criteria, to ensure the needs of the industry and examples of how a national data strategy can help optimize operation are considered. Following this, a more detailed and considered roadmap for the UK’s data-driven future will be outlined.

Once published, this roadmap, in many cases, will join other global governments initiatives in setting a global data precedence. As the UK takes steps towards creating a strategy for the correct and optimal use of data, it is marking the beginning of a global interoperable data policy which will transform the way we use data in the future.


As the construction industry has led the way in the use of data to improve operations and outcomes, Asite has been at the forefront of the integration and use of data across the sector. The Asite Platform allows data to be integrated seamlessly and enables organizations to build digital engineering teams that can deliver digital twins and just plain build better. To find out more, contact us at sales-ukeu@asite.com or +44 20 4579 0736.


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