Four councils turn to open data to improve services
Open Data Institute seeks more public sector partners with which to invest its £6m spending pot
A quartet of local authorities have completed government-funded projects to use open data to better design and deliver public services.
Not-for-profit organisation The Open Data Institute last year received a £6m three-year funding package from Innovate UK to invest in bolstering the UK’s data infrastructure and improving how data is used by public- and private-sector organisations. Earlier this year a tranche of this money was awarded to four local authorities, each of which put forward a proposal for a pilot project that aimed to use open data to improve services. This quartet of projects, detailed below, have all now successfully concluded.
Kent County Council
The local authority for the Garden of England worked with the Kent Energy Efficiency Partnership and service-design agency Uscreates to map the impact of fuel poverty across the county. The project incorporated the use of open, closed, and shared data sets, which contained information on citizens’ health and care needs and postcode. This data was processed using a “dynamic modelling” system to calculate how many people in the county might be affected by fuel poverty, and what the knock-on effect of this would be on rates of chronic health conditions and the resultant demand for care services.
“By using open data to understand more about the demographic of our residents, we can create services which are preventative and tailored to the needs of those receiving them. Services can switch from reactively supporting people after a crisis, to preventing the crisis in the first place.”
Dipna Pattni Kent Energy Efficiency Partnership
This South Yorkshire council also worked with Uscreates to design a data-driven tool that provides young people with information about training, education, and career options. The project has now received a further £100,000 in funding from Doncaster’s Social Mobility Opportunity Area Board to invest in developing a fully functioning prototype.
North Lanarkshire Council
This Scottish authority has implemented a policy of being “open by default” for all non-sensitive data. The council worked with service-design specialist Snook and smart-cities firm UrbanTide to analyse demand for its business-rate data, in a bid to reduce the number of Freedom of Information requests it receives.
London Borough of Waltham Forest
On the back of being picked by mayor Sadiq Khan as London’s first “borough of culture”, this east London council undertook a project aimed at boosting citizens’ “engagement in arts, heritage, and culture”. The scheme used WiFi access points installed at Walthamstow’s Vestry House Museum to analyse footfall and user responses to the welcome screen provided by the museum. The council worked with communications firm Technology Box and charity The Audience Agency.
“We wanted to use data to understand how the entire community accessed culture and arts, rather than just the majority… By using open, closed and shared data we have been able to look at consumer behaviours in relation to location, with the aim of building stronger communities for the future.”
Clare Coghill, Waltham Forest Council leader
Over the coming year, the ODI will work alongside its service-design specialist partners to help build more open data-powered tools and platforms for use by local authorities and other public-sector entities.
Jeni Tennison, chief executive of the ODI, said: “These projects demonstrate the different ways in which data can be used to influence and improve public services. They also show how collaboration and open innovation can lead to novel approaches and build digital and data capability within local government teams. We hope that this work helps inspire other local and regional governments to experiment with using data as a tool to inform the delivery of public services, save money and better support communities.”
More data likely to be made available under government licence in due course
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