Data and Automation

As data reveals the previously unknowable, increasing automation transforms society, and the digitisation of services improves transparency for some.

Just as politics is pushing some of us apart, our dependency on technology and interconnected systems is pulling others together. Deeper and wider digitisation is providing previously unknown levels of information and foresight. Within this, there is growing understanding that data is a national asset and requires protection. As a result, data flows are increasingly being blocked by governments which seek to defend their people, sovereignty, and economy from exploitation by foreign powers. As the true value of data becomes apparent over the next decade, many expect more countries of sufficient scale and capability to go beyond just defending their data assets and to try to build a data economy of their own.

ome expect that in the long term, the acceleration in the number of interconnected systems will make the world a safer place, enjoying higher productivity and economic growth, and the creation of new jobs in yet-to-exist industries. Online giants in particular have assumed that the data economy will be a global affair, with data flowing to where storage and processing is best done for technical and cost reasons. However, the geopolitics are becoming complex. Governments are increasingly asserting their “digital sovereignty”, demanding that data does not leave their country of origin. They are right to be concerned, as citizens’ privacy is not the only worry. Data may also reveal much about a country’s defences, and as military operations become increasingly data-driven, the skills needed to manage and protect critical data and applications is becoming a crucial requirement for the Armed Forces. For those Service men and women who work in this area, future career opportunities look bright. For others, understanding what they don’t know about data may help to identify future training needs, as they transition into civilian life. This is particularly relevant to those in the military who may not be exposed to the same sort of on-the-job training opportunities as others, “We are seeing a lack of technical ability with some of those coming out of the military. We are in discussions to get some  tech skills delivered for Armed Forces leavers.”

Over the next decade, better use of data around transitioning Service personnel themselves looks set to transform their lives in other practical ways. Without clear information on those who are serving, veterans and their families, it’s hard to provide them with the support they are entitled to. Despite an estimated 1 in 10 of the UK population being active members of the Armed Forces Community at some point in their careers, currently there is very limited information about where they are or what their needs might be. To address this, the Government’s official statistics body, the Office for National Statistics (ONS), along with Scotland and Wales but not Northern Ireland, included a question about veterans in the 2021 census. Over the next ten years, it is hoped that better data around their needs will lead to better support services which can specifically target those who need it most. “I would focus on those who are experiencing the greatest difficulty. These are the people who have the least to offer society. They don’t have a place to go.”

Example Implication: More and better use of data to identify and support transitioners will help prioritise those who are experiencing challenges. Key to this is to ensure support services are prepared to collaborate and have the necessary digital skills to take action.




1 Comment


The question is how the data will be used beneficially for leavers.