Technical data and register questions come in from time to time and so we've placed our answers here for you:
What is the difference between a data register and a data repository?
As defined by Techopedia a data repository is is a somewhat general term used to refer to a destination designated for data storage. However, many IT experts use the term more specifically to refer to a particular kind of setup within an overall IT structure, such as a group of databases, where an enterprise or organization has chosen to keep various kinds of data. Some experts refer to a data repository as a partitioning of data, where partitioned data types are stored together. It is also commonly called data warehousing.
A data register however is clearly defined by the Government Digital Service:
TISCreport is the only data register devoted to UK modern slavery statements. Among the requirements met are (with numbering taken from the really clear GDS article by Paul Downey):
1. Registers are canonical and have a clear reason for their existence: We are the most authoritative list of organisations in or out of compliance with modern slavery act section 54, mapped to legal financial entities, cross-referenced to registers with complementary data records on corporate and other entities. For example we use standard SIC codes and country codes to enable mapping across other registers.
2. Registers represent a 'minimum viable dataset': We do not reproduce information held in other registers as defined by GDS. Instead we link to them.
3. Registers are live lists, not simply published data: Our TISCbots check our data regularly and track changes, within documents as well as location changes, and updated by members and non-members in the same way they do with their Companies House submissions.
4. Registers use standard names consistently with other registers: which is why all public records link directly to their Companies House or Open Corporates page for further information about turnover, annual returns etc.
5. Registers are able to prove integrity of record: we publish the source of all of our data and our confidence in the data source, which include Companies House and opencorporates.com.
6. Registers are clearly categorised as open, shared or private: we are open as defined by the Open Data Institute Certification to Silver level (and working towards gold).
7. Registers contain raw not derived data: i.e. no interpretations or analysis available publicly.
Why don't you measure the number of Modern Slavery statements?
When looking to being successful in stamping out modern slavery, measuring how many organisations are in compliance with Anti-Slavery legislation is far more important than the number of statements.
It will be possible for us to extract a number which would relate closely to the number of unique documents. We could do this rather accurately since we are fingerprinting every document and tracking changes in documents as they happen. And having occasionally done this we are in no doubt that there is no other register or repository with as many as we have.
However, this is in no way a useful metric as it does not relate directly to anything meaningful to anyone except someone looking to process them all. It is also a number that is changing far too rapidly to be anything other than misleading if displayed. Many group organisations produce multiple statements (one for each organisation within their group that must comply), and many more produce one document which is applied to their entire group, or an organisation within a group and all of its subsidiaries. In some cases organisation have multiple versions published online for the same year.
Obtaining a number of statements is very simple, and can be done by anyone with access to an internet search engine. But if you have an AI/machine learning system with access to such searches you immediately have all of the statements.
To add to this, we have submissions from members and the public, which means we have a significant processing backlog.
What is important is that statements are turned into useful data. Linking them to financial entities in an absolute way, makes them useful. We are also combining this with other compliance goals such as director signatures, website homepage links, and even guideline contents. All of this is then mapped to specific entities in order to make the data Interoperable.
This Interoperability means that the data can be merged with other Open Data from Companies House, Open Corporates, Sedex, Charities Commission, Supplier lists etc.
Our Open Data register is currently the only one able to correctly measure the success of the Modern Slavery Act by not only knowing which companies are in compliance, but also which are not.
What is open data?
By the Open Data Institute definition, open data is data that anyone can access, use or share. Our data can be interrogated in many ways by anti-slavery agencies, member organisations wanting to understand their supply chain, or anyone else. We are open data via public search or via API or via dashboard.
For those wishing to interrogate the data at a deeper level across multiple data sources, a paid-for membership is available, enabling users to spot patterns and anomalies via live dashboard. Our data is out of date the moment it leaves our system, because our data is being constantly updated, and so our serious partners make use of the available dashboards.
We are ODI-certified to Silver level and are close to Gold certification. You can read more on the ODI site about why open data is a good idea, but our reason for choosing open data as a way to run our register is because Modern Slavery is a global issue, and the data that can help to end it currently exists in silos. By making it easier for organisations to access the data they need to make more informed decisions, we can achieve our end goal far more quickly: to drive slavery out of our supply chains.
Is there data you hold that isn't open?
Yes. Our members can choose to either share their supply chain data publicly or keep it confidential. This data belongs to them and not us, and so we only share what is acquired under an open data licence or publicly available. We also have company turnover data from various sources that are subject to similar restrictions. We use it to determine if compliance is mandatory or not, but we do not release this as open data. However, members are still able to assess the supply chain risk data we have access to without making their own data public. Creating a safe space for companies to collaborate is already giving rise to some incredibly positive outcomes on the ground.
Do you know which companies haven't complied with the Modern Slavery Act, and is the Government acting on it?
Yes, we have a list of companies who, by turnover, location and SIC code, need to comply with Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act but haven't. This list is not complete but growing daily, and we publish this figure live on TISCreport.org. We have made contact with everyone on our list directly where websites, email addresses and telephone numbers are available. Where contact details are not available we have asked their auditors (listed in their end of year accounts).
Why do you include holding companies in your database?
A holding company deals specificially with assets, investments and management rather than providing goods and services. So you would think that they were exempt from complying. However changes were made on January 31st 2015 to the rules for company and business names. The use of the word ‘holding’ (or ‘holdings’) is no longer considered ‘sensitive’. This means you can now include this word in your company name without seeking permission from Companies House. As such, unless a company declares that it is not trading in an exemption statement, we have to assume that it might be subject to section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act. If you run a holding company over £36M turnover that does not provide goods and services you can file your exemption statement here on TISCreport.
Why does my organisation have a profile on your site when we haven't registered or joined?
Our data comes from multiple sources. If you're a company, your data will come from the open data held on Companies House and/or OpenCorporates.com.
Your compliance data will come from one of the following:
1) One of your buyers
2) From a member of the public
3) From one of your employees, submitting your statement anonymously
4) From one our trackerbots monitoring your site for compliance
In all of these cases, you can register to claim your account for free and verify that the statement submitted is the correct version for that year. We will report this back to your buyers and our partnering government departments, and also your suppliers who may well be tracking your compliance via TISCreport.
If we upload our supplier data to your supplier dashboard will our supply chain remain confidential?
Yes. Uploading your suppliers to the supplier dashboard will enable you to use TISCreport without exposing it to the public. Your supplier data remains completely private and within your control. There is functionality within to share some or all of your suppliers publicly and this is entirely within your control from within the supplier dashboard.