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The Rt Hon Lord Maude of

Horsham, Chairman, FMA

State of Open: The UK in 2021

Phase Two: “UK Adoption”

The Right Honourable Lord Maude of Horsham, former Minister for the Cabinet Office (2010-2015), reflects on the UK government’s successful digital transformation, highlighting achievements such as founding the Government Digital Service and championing open principles. He stresses the enduring value of openness, emphasising open data, standards, and open source software. In the post-Brexit era, the UK has an opportunity to leverage open source technology, particularly in healthcare. While acknowledging challenges related to privacy and security, he advocates for addressing these concerns transparently. The UK government’s commitment to open source in the NHS Data White Paper is seen as a significant step, offering growth opportunities for businesses and global collaboration.

Open Source, Standards and the UK
The Rt Hon Lord Maude of Horsham, Chairman, FMA

From 2010 to 2015, as Minister for the Cabinet Office, I was privileged to have oversight of the UK Government’s digital transformation programme. We set up the Government Digital Service – GDS; co-founded the Open Government Partnership; and after a few years the UK was ranked best in the world for digital government and for open government. Oh, and we saved a shed load of money and delivered much better value to the taxpayer.

“Open” was the word running through all this. Open data, mandatory open standards, open source software: these created the alchemy that enabled us to make the UK a global trailblazer.

Today, the demand for more openness, governance and accountability is stronger than ever. The role of data in our everyday lives has gone up, and the number of organisations that are creating data about us, and for us, has increased massively. The world is more connected, and more data flows around the world, from country to country, every day. At the same time, people want more control over information about them, created by them, and used to make decisions about them.

The world of technology has of course evolved furiously, with new companies entering the market and new opportunities constantly being created. However, the value of openness has not diminished. Indeed, as the previous OpenUK Report demonstrated, open source software can deliver the tools for individuals, businesses and governments to succeed and this report demonstrates that we in the UK are using them with vigour.

In the UK, open source software represents a signifcant opportunity to carry through on the ideas that have been discussed throughout the past decade. The value of open technology to the UK economy will only increase as more companies and governments take advantage of open source.

In the world after Brexit, the UK has an opportunity to rethink its approach to engaging with the world. We can learn lessons from the world of open technology, where leading in innovative projects and collaborating with others globally is more efficient and more effective. The UK Government has already recognised the importance of this in the NHS Data White Paper in June 2021, stating that new software developments and projects undertaken will be made available under open source licences.

This move offers huge potential for companies and for the NHS, as once these projects are created, they may be shared and used by others. Successful data and software projects at one of the world’s largest healthcare systems would undoubtedly be in demand at other healthcare providers across the globe, providing an opportunity to build out successful businesses based on this.

Alongside this growth opportunity, there will be challenges.

There are requirements around data privacy and security that must be addressed, and individuals and communities must feel that their concerns are listened to. The ethics of how data is used have to be defned, understood and respected and open standards will be essential. Each of these elements can and should be addressed in the open.

As more of our lives move to digital services and as governments around the world seek both digital and data sovereignty whilst improving services to their citizens, open technology can fll the gaps that exist.

The UK Government has led the way around innovation in government based on open, and it must continue to build on that work. By creating and supporting existing and new projects based on open, UK companies can deliver the infrastructure that others around the world can use.

The UK is well positioned to create sustainable and effective ways to process data, to manage industries and to make use of data in healthcare and government.

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