Three boroughs are helping to pioneer a prototype project which, if successful, would see citizens having control over the online management and sharing of their own data.
People within Brent and Croydon LBCs and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead are being offered digital tools to enable them to store and manage their personal details and, solely at their own discretion, to share them with external organisations – from local authorities to commercial companies.
The personal data store service has been devised and launched by the Mydex, a community interest company. It plans to be the opposite of the current position where an individual’s data is held by every organisation they do business with online and each has to be updated when that data changes.
Explaining the project at the Socitm 2010 conference in Brighton, Mydex’s William Heath said that empowering individuals to manage their own personal data offered greater convenience, more control, and allowed better decision making. For businesses and public services it meant the chance to reduce costs and create value by improving their ability to offer relevant, personalised services.
Other organisations taking part include the Department for Work and Pensions, the social network Netmums. External verification is provided by Experian and research will be provided by YouGov.
Official observers and contributors include the Information Commissioner’s Office, Directgov (now part of the Cabinet Office), the Direct Marketing Association, Open Society Foundation, Olswang LLP and University College London.
The prototype will be assessing issues such as data security, the practicality of the technology underpinning it and the experience of the volunteer citizens.
Cllr Liam Maxwell (Con), Windsor and Maidenhead’s cabinet member for policy and performance, including sustainability and IT, said: “We think it will save citizens time, reduce hassle and allow for more accurate data to flow between the council, other organisations and people themselves. It is an important first step in this tax-cutting council’s strategy to deliver better services for less cost - and to make government work for the people not the other way round.”
Tony Ellis, head of IT at Brent, said: “Mydex is an important step towards Brent residents owning and safeguarding their own data and is a practical example of Brent’s ongoing commitment to providing more efficient local services.
“At a time when public services are under severe financial pressure this is yet another example of how we as a council are rising to the challenge of finding innovative ways to improve our services,” he added.