Sharing data has been vital in the response to the pandemic; enabling symptoms linked to the virus to be evaluated and informing the overall vaccination rollout. It has also been a vital instrument in directing and informing the public. 

Earlier this year, in line with Scotland’s digital ambition, Public Health Scotland (PHS) launched a new digital and data strategy which looks at how the country will create better public health outcomes.  

Public Health Scotland committed to working with partners to create even richer sources of data that can lead to targeted public health interventions.

This is a positive move, but there are three key aspects the Scottish public sector must also consider to accelerate its data-driven future:  


Context is vital. The sector must be sensitive to the fact that different individuals and organisations have different understandings when talking about data. They care about having access to the information they require to make effective decisions. Information depends on data, but data does not depend on information. Therefore, it’s NetApp’s job to orchestrate the underlying infrastructure and data services to deliver the data in such a way that can be presented as information via the customer’s preferred application suite. 


It is clear data is shaping our lives and many people are happy to accept this. But on the flip side, older generations may be less welcoming and as a result, have a heightened awareness the cyber security risk. As such there needs to be acceptable balance between risk and opportunity. 

Scottish organisations must accept that data sharing will be increasingly commonplace in the future and that new access control and security methods will be required to maintain control across increasingly complex hybrid cloud ecosystems. As part of this it will be important to consider how immutable copies of data can be used to achieve these goals without introducing additional risk or waste. 

Data fabric

Most importantly, we should consider building a data fabric. This presents an opportunity to “decouple” the dependences between applications, data centres and storage, freeing us to think more holistically about managing the entire lifecycle of data. 

This provides greater protection against cyber security threats and allows a “zero trust” model to be introduced to safeguard against wider data loss. It enables individuals and organisations to maintain control of their data by capitalising on the power and flexibility of the public cloud, therefore accelerating their data-driven future.