Today we are publishing our open response to the government's National Data Strategy. Given the significant changes of recent years, the government is consulting across all sectors on its National Data Strategy, which includes five mission statements:

  1. Unlocking the value of data across the economy
  2. Maintaining a pro-growth and trusted data regime
  3. Transforming government’s use of data to drive efficiency and improve public services
  4. Ensuring the security and resilience of the infrastructure on which data relies
  5. Championing the international flow of data 

We have responded to this consultation to ensure the issues we face as a market operator, along with trading parties who operate in the water retail market, are considered. Whilst there are a number of issues which will cut across all sectors following the UK's withdrawal from the EU - such as the need for a clear, simple and unambiguous data protection regime -  there are equally issues that are fundamental for MOSL and our members.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only served to further highlight the benefits of good quality and accessible data. There was an immediate need to understand the impact of the pandemic on business closures, water consumption, and cashflow. With the lockdown, meter reading was restricted, further emphasising the importance of maintaining timely and accurate consumption data.

As market operator and the custodian of central market data, data security is critical for MOSL, but is becoming more complex with the increasing dominance of global cloud service providers.  Having nationally, or internationally, recognised security standards and accreditations would be helpful when assessing the robustness of data infrastructure service providers, and we believe the government has a role to help in defining these.

The water industry is also facing significant environment challenges around supply and demand and decarbonisation. A key enabler is cross collaboration in generating insight and cross sector solutions. For example, through open data sharing in the market, as well as between the water, electric and gas industries.

Data availability in the market is impacted both by a lack of interoperability and high costs, thus requiring economies of scale to compete. Developing and then enforcing data standardisation across sectors and industries would be a significant enabler. Extending the governments 'Open Data' policy to the utilities sectors, whilst protecting personal data and recognising the need for commercial confidentiality and competition, would be a welcome step forward, which MOSL would support.

Today we are publishing our full response document and welcome feedback from our members and the wider market. If you would like to get in touch with us to discuss our response, please email comms@mosl.co.uk.

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