UK government publishes Smart Data Roadmap

Ellie Duncan
18 Apr 2024

The UK government has published a Smart Data Roadmap, setting out its plans to explore the use of Smart Data powers in the Data Protection and Digital Information (DPDI) Bill in sectors, including energy, retail, transport and telecommunications.

It has been estimated that wider data mobility in the UK could increase GDP by £27.8 billion per year.

In its Smart Data Roadmap, the government has labelled banking, finance, energy and road fuels, telecoms and transport as “priority” sectors, while homebuying and retail are categorised in the roadmap as “other sectors of interest”.

Kevin Hollinrake MP, Minister of State for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business, wrote in the foreword of the Smart Data Roadmap: “Our ambition is to build upon and learn from Open Banking, extending the principles that underpin its international success across the UK economy.

Kevin Hollinrake MP, Minister of State for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business

“In each of these sectors we will identify where regulatory intervention may be necessary, consult on the use of the Smart Data powers in the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill and, if necessary, design a potential scheme and proceed with implementation.”

He added: “We will continue to ensure that this work is coordinated through the work of the Smart Data Council, to enable an efficient and interoperable Smart Data ecosystem to emerge.”

Each of the sectors will progress through four stages, starting with identification, then consultation, design and, finally, implementation.

When a scheme reaches the ‘implementation’ stage – such as banking – it will be operational, with data holders “in scope” being able to provide the data sets in line with the requirements and technical standards as set out in the relevant regulations, and consumers able to give consent for their data to be shared.

Key dates in each sector

Open Finance is at the initial ‘identification’ stage, according to the roadmap, with the Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology’s (CFIT’s) Open Finance Coalition having published its Blueprint in February, and the second phase of the coalition announced this week.

In energy and road fuels, the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) has already consulted on a statutory Open Data scheme for road fuel prices.

Following analysis of the consultation and Royal Assent of the DPDI Bill, government expects that regulations will be laid to establish the scheme and that, by end of Summer 2024, DESNZ will publish a sector-wide call for evidence and will set out the next steps in a government response by March 2025.

With a consultation on Smart Data in telecommunications having closed on 13 November 2023, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology is expected to set out next steps in Spring 2024.

In the transport sector, the roadmap reveals that the Department for Transport will use the outcomes from “discovery work” on use cases for Smart Data to shape a Call for Evidence in Autumn 2024, with a view to publishing further detail on the opportunities for Smart Data in the transport sector in 2025.

Retail and homebuying are both still at the identification stage.

The Department for Business and Trade is preparing to engage “formally” with the Retail Sector Council and other trade associations in the summer to discuss opportunities for Smart Data, before agreeing to next steps to progress Smart Data in retail in the Autumn, government has confirmed.

Meanwhile, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities will launch several pilot projects to “inform future digitalisation” of the homebuying and selling process by Summer 2024.

Open Banking

Henk Van Hulle

Henk Van Hulle, chief executive officer of Open Banking Limited

While Open Banking is already implemented, the roadmap reiterates that HM Treasury will use the Smart Data powers to provide Open Banking with a long-term regulatory framework “by laying secondary regulations”.

Henk Van Hulle, chief executive officer of Open Banking Limited, said: “Developing new Smart Data schemes will accelerate the economic benefits of Open Banking to other key sectors, including energy, retail, transport, homebuying and telecoms, further increasing these opportunities.

“We look forward to seeing the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill progress through Parliament, giving the government formal powers to mandate participation in future Smart Data schemes via regulations.”

He added: “OBL will continue to work with government and regulators, and maintain our active role in the Smart Data Council, to deliver the next phase of Open Banking in the UK and support the introduction of other Smart Data schemes.”

Van Hulle said that OBL remains keen to see the Smart Data Council further investigate the need for “a ‘body’ to ensure that Smart Data standards are interoperable and consistently applied”.

Last month, the four winners of the UK’s ‘Smart Data Discovery Challenge’ were revealed, with each of the teams awarded for their ideas on how to use Smart Data to make a difference for consumers, small businesses and society.

Further reading: Can the UK embrace Smart Data as the US plays catch up?