Last year the UK’s Royal Statistical Society released their Data Manifesto, highlighting ‘….the potential of data to improve policy and business practice’, and stressing the importance of what the Society referred to as data literacy. A central theme in the manifesto is the role of public domain data, both the quality of the information that is available and the trust placed in it by the individuals and organisations who use that data. Although much has been accomplished over recent years with respect to providing better access to government data, the Society specifically mention the value in continuing to open up addressing and geospatial data as ‘..core reference data upon which society depends and also act as a catalyst to release economic value from other open datasets’.
Just as important as having access to data sources are the skills required to analyse and interpret that data; the data literacy skills that will be the foundation of the new data economy – basic data handling, quantitative skills and the ability to interpret data using the best technologies for the task.
As data users in this new data economy we also need the critical skills described by Joseph Kerski in his post on being critical of data; yes we need access to the public domain and open data, yes we need to be able to find data and yes we need the skills to work with the data, but we also need to be able to determine the quality of the data and how appropriate the data are for our individual requirements.