The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is developing a data strategy that will be key in enabling us to put in place the correct infrastructure e.g. data capability, governance and management framework.
This aims to serve the ONS and support the Government Statistical Service (GSS) in the future, balancing the needs to extract value from data against the appropriate safeguards.
A comprehensive framework that underpins this strategy manages and governs data practices to ensure that data is protected and meets legal obligations. This includes linking and matching practices.
The full high-level data management framework comprises:
- a set of data principles which define the scope and path of data management, from acquiring or collecting data, through to publication, and a set of security principles which define the foundation of our data protection practices
- a suite of policies to support data and security principles – these are statements of intent which describe what will be done to ensure it complies with data and security principles
- a set of data standards and security procedures and protocols which define how statistical and business activities are carried out
The linking and matching policy is currently being reviewed to reflect the United Kingdom (UK) Statistics Authority’s systemic review.
Data linking and harmonisation
When multiple datasets are combined through linking, it is very important to use consistent and coherent definitions in data collection wherever possible.
Without this, there is a risk that the linked data will measure the same topic in several, different ways. This can present a confusing picture to users, and might also limit useful analysis because it can be difficult to reconcile such differences.
Harmonisation addresses this challenge by ensuring commonality in the use of definitions, administrative data and in the presentation of outputs.
The GSS Harmonisation Team maintains and develops fully approved harmonised principles (harmonised definitions, survey questions, standards for administrative data and standards to be used when presenting outputs).
If you would like to know more about harmonisation, the GSS Harmonisation Team can support you in developing and implementing harmonised principles.
Connected Open Government Statistics (COGS)
The approach to Connected Open Government Statistics (COGS) is to standardise and harmonise data. This means carefully analysing the structure of the datasets, establishing shared codelists, and being very specific about using metadata to describe the datasets.
While there are different ways of approaching this, linked data provides a convenient framework for modelling and publishing data in this way and is well suited to discovering and accessing the data using the web.
Linked data is about using the web to connect related data that wasn’t previously linked, or using the web to lower the barriers to linking data currently linked using other methods.
The fundamental reason for doing this is to make it easier for people to discover and use the datasets that have been published.