Public Sector Newsletter
February 2018

Throw out the old rules of government?

Why data analytics hold the key to Brexit success

Like it or not, Brexit is moving ahead. What the withdrawal from the EU does offer us is a way to reset the way we govern, develop and ratify policies in the UK for the UK. Make no mistake, while we all want to make a success of Brexit it is certainly a time of high risk for the country and decisions must be made now for our future and as we fully embrace the opportunity to examine the best paths forward using evidence-based decision-making.

So why should we use data analytics to set government strategy and develop departmental policies going forward? Firstly, because there will be far less direction from the EU, depending on the final agreement we come to, we need to navigate successful paths ahead for every single government department from DEFRA to the MOD. Let’s take border security and customs as an example. Without the sharing of intelligence and the co-operation of our European allies, and with a need to make the UK ‘easy to do business with’, we will have to find robust new ways to both protect our country against illegal trade and trafficking on the one hand, while delivering ‘frictionless’ borders to expedite trade and tourism on the other. How will we be able to do this? Analytics and AI will help us learn quickly about the patterns of behaviour that look suspicious, reducing the number of false positives that are investigated by border personnel while uncovering new routes for illegal immigrants and contraband goods as they evolve.

Without a common agricultural policy to adhere to, DEFRA has an opportunity to develop more localised agricultural policies that better support local economic needs and environmental challenges and conditions. But we will need to make far better use of the rich data supplies we currently possess in order to develop more integrated, holistic policies.

As we seek to attract new business investment in the country, will we need to rethink our taxation strategies? What are the possibilities for tax relief while also maximising annual tax yields? Sophisticated modelling will help HMRC find the answers.

In fact, the possibilities offered via data analytics are almost endless for both strategy development and operational effectiveness. And it’s something that we should use creatively in order to better serve the needs of every country in the UK. To do this, we will need to think differently about how we share data between departments and with external partners. Of course, GDPR will be in effect, even after we leave the EU, so embracing upcoming principles of data sharing under the government’s AI council will be key.

This is particularly the case given the significant devolutionary pressures that are still in play inside the UK. How so? Because using analytics in evidence-based policy will help us to better understand the needs of regional populations and provide tailored policy and frameworks for governing accordingly.

In fact, SAS has a track record of delivering powerful insight to newly devolved countries. When the Soviet Union fell, Estonia found itself in a similar situation as the UK does now. The country had to develop new government processes and structures and used SAS analytics to take the first step in understanding its population dynamics, in order to develop appropriate services and policies.

We’re already working with many government organisations to deliver better services to citizens, more cost-effectively. Take a look at the case studies in our whitepaper Analytics for Government.