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DfT claims interactive mapping will improve rail investments

Whitehall officials are drawing up plans to create a new interactive mapping tool to support investment decisions concerning the UK’s rail network.

The plans were revealed in a tender notice issued by the Department for Transport earlier this week as part of a broader drive across government towards data-led decision-making.

The tender, issued through the government’s digital outcomes framework, reveals that officials are looking to develop a way of plotting a range of data about rail projects, population sizes and estimated passenger numbers on to interactive maps.

Worth £25,000, the initial tender covers a “discovery stage” to determine who would use the service and whether the department would need to develop a bespoke product or could buy an “off-the-shelf” version.

The successful bidder will be tasked with delivering the discovery report and presentation following a four-to-six week analysis. “The primary users of the Discovery outcomes will be internal DfT users, who will use the evidence to inform consideration of options on the future development of an internal Civil Service only mapping tool,” the notice states.

“These users will include area leads who will be providing information into the tool), policy and project teams around the department, as well as senior managers and Board members who will be the customers of the tool, and who will have preferences in the type of data and the format in which it is presented,” it adds.

As NS Tech reported at the time, in November the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) appointed its first head of data policy as part of an initiative to reform how central government, the public sector and wider industry work with data.

The National Audit Office had warned earlier this year that Whitehall’s dependence on poor quality data has compromised policy programmes and contributed to major public scandals, including Windrush.

In a report published in June, the spending watchdog identified “a culture of tolerating and working around poor data” and said it was hindering the government’s ability to make evidence-based decisions and deliver new policies. The new data policy chief, a former City Hall official, will be charged with improving the quality of data available to civil servants.