Government rolls out real-time big-data tool to ‘map global supply chains and proactively mitigate risks’

Department of Business and Trade signs £300k deal with specialist firm to implement supply data platform for use by six departments and their various agencies, as well as the NHS

Government is to expand its implementation of a big-data platform intended to provide real-time intelligence on global supply chains, enabling key Whitehall departments and the NHS to identify and “proactively mitigate risks”.

The Department for Business and Trade has signed a deal worth £331,200 for the provision of data sets to support its Global Supply Chains Intelligence Programme.

“This programme tests the value of combining several government and external data sets, along with big data analytics, to map global supply chains,” the department said, in a newly published commercial notice. “Participants across government will use real-time visibility and insights to better understand their supply chains, recognise and harness opportunities, and proactively mitigate risks.”

The contract signed by the DBT, which was awarded to specialist data and analytics firm FactSet, covers the provision of masses of information including “global supply chain relationships and business classification data sets”.

A digital portal run by the trade department will then make this data available for download by the organisations taking part in the GSCIP initiative, which is now expanding beyond a two-year pilot phase which ran from 2021 to 2023.

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Departments that will have access to the information include the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, Ministry of Defence, HM Treasury, Cabinet Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office, and the Department for Business and Trade itself. Executive agencies of the Cabinet Office and DSIT are also taking part in the market intelligence programme, as is specialist health-service entity NHS Supply Chain.

The contract between DBT and FactSet, which come into effect on 1 April and runs for an initial one-year term, stipulates that “the method of data transfer… will be secure and will be agreed by both parties… [and] will be reviewed on an ongoing basis as security standards change”.

In an evaluation of the programme’s pilot phase published earlier this year, government said that the GSCIP initiative was launched as “events of recent years have severely disrupted global supply chains, and traditional methods of manually mapping critical supply chains take a long time to complete”.

“GSCIP is an innovative programme that uses data science to map global supply chains in order to improve visibility of supply chain opportunities and risks,” it adds. “The GSCIP platform combines commercial and UK government data to improve visibility and resilience of supply chains to quickly answer government supply chain questions.”

The evaluation, which was conducted by research firm Ipsos concluded that “GSCIP is providing the UK with world-leading AI [and] machine learning capability in supply-chain mapping; consequently, retaining and further enhancing this advantage is an important opportunity” for government.

Sam Trendall

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