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Data synchronization – tackling the major GDPR challenge in the public sector

Why is this critical, and what must be done?

Esa Manneri / January 16, 2018

Public sector organizations are adapting their processes to ensure GDPR compliance. One major concern is how citizens’ data is spread out in data silos that may be out of sync. Why is this critical, and what must be done?

Data, including personal data, rules the world. The winners are those who know how to use it wisely – and in a right way.

For all organizations that handle personal data, GDPR introduces strict rules to ensure data privacy, and it gives new rights for data subjects. Becoming – and remaining – GDPR compliant is more of an administrational than technical process. Still, technology plays a major role in the implementation.

The public sector needs tools for this process as well, because the very nature of the public sector is to handle citizens' data. One aspect is the need to ensure that data is synchronized.

Risks of out-of-sync data

GDPR's main principles touch upon how personal data is stored, processed, and secured. For instance, data must be kept up to date and be accurate. In addition, citizens have the right to view their data, transfer it elsewhere, or even have it deleted. All of these requirements will cause big challenges.

Why is personal data often out of sync in the public sector? Just as in the private sector, public sector organizations have experienced mergers over the years. As a result, personal data is stored and processed in separate systems that do not talk to each other automatically. And current legislation may also prevent needed data synchronization.

This can cause problems, if a citizen uses his right to view his personal data processed by a certain public sector organization. When data is spread out in silos out of sync, it is cumbersome to gather all data in a timely manner.

GDPR requires that privacy of personal data must be safeguarded, and it must be stored in resilient systems. Public sector organizations have to check whether access to citizens' data is managed and monitored properly: only persons who really need access should have it, and all access should be logged. Preparations for GDPR may reveal less than adequate access monitoring, even unofficial records stored outside well monitored systems.

All specified public sector challenges related to personal data protection should be solved by May 25, 2018. Otherwise, the national data protection ombudsman may come storming in.

Use GDPR as a vehicle to improve processes and systems

GDPR may be used as a vehicle to unify procedures and data systems for handling personal data. GDPR should not be considered a monster. Instead, it can be seen as an opportunity to improve data processing across the organization.

For a public sector organization, it is very helpful to utilize governance models and applications designed for GDPR preparations. Technical tools such as Identity Access Management applications are essential.

At Tieto, we have a long experience in working with the public sector, and understand the challenges with GDPR very well. Our toolbox provides the answers to GDPR issues – current and emerging.

Interested in how this can be a game changer for you? Watch the recording from our GDPR webinar for the public sector here.

Esa Manneri
Customer Executive, Government sector in Finland, Tieto

Esa has long experience in management consultancy and business development, working with strategy, service and performance improvement, particularly for clients at energy companies and governmental offices. Currently Esa is Customer Executive within Tieto for the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. Each day he focuses on how IT can increase productivity of governmental offices and improve the user experience of digitalized services for citizens.


Esa Manneri

Customer Executive, Government sector in Finland, Tieto

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