The boss of the Civil Service has insisted that the government "gets" big data, adding that the use of analytics has transformed the way that certain tasks are carried out in the public sector.
John Manzoni (pictured) delivered a speech today in which he said that the "enormous quantities" of data within government need to be used properly, adding that getting this right would be the "next phase of public service modernisation".
The Government Transformation Strategy was unveiled earlier this month, in which the government stressed the importance of embracing digital technology, including analytics. Manzoni said that the new strategy, along with the Digital Economy Bill, has helped drive this up the agenda.
Although the government is only now turning its attention to big data in a more meaningful way, Manzoni cited some successes the public sector has had with related technologies so far.
He pinpointed healthcare and law enforcement as key areas where big data can help.
"Moorfields Eye Hospital and DeepMind Health are partners in a research project that could lead to earlier detection of eye diseases," he said. "At the moment, clinicians rely on complex digital eye scans. Three thousand of these scans are made every week at Moorfields. But traditional tools can't explore them fully, and analysis takes time.
"Moorfields will share a data set of one million anonymised scans with DeepMind, which will analyse them using machine-learning technology. This can detect and learn patterns from data in seconds, to quickly diagnose whether a condition is urgent."
He added that the Home Office Child Abuse Image Database has also been transformed by big data.
"The database brings together all the images of abuse that police find. Using the images' unique identifiers and metadata, they can check devices they've seized from suspects against the material on the database much more quickly.
"Previously a case involving, say, 10,000 images, would typically take up to three days to review. Now, it can be reviewed in an hour.
"So we have a process that is cheaper, less labour-intensive and more efficient. This is all good. And it makes the investigation and prosecution of these appalling crimes vastly more effective."
The charter has pulled together the biggest names in tech in an unprecedented attempt to address the tech industry's lack of diversity. Tom Wright asks how it plans to do it
Highlander MD Steve Brown tells CRN about the skills he learned on the pitch and brought to the boardroom
Reports suggest Dell is pursuing a straightforward IPO, contradicting existing plans to buy out tracking stock holders
Analysts predict upturn in PC market next year, but 2018 to remain plagued by components shortages