ODI urges local authorities to embrace open data initiative

DataIQ News

The Open Data Institute (ODI) has sent out a call for action to public sector chiefs to work with the organisation to creating and testing tools that use open data in new ways for public services, on the back of four projects it completed which were backed funding from the government-backed Innovate UK.

The projects have been run as part of a £6m, three-year innovation programme, managed by the ODI, which aims to build data infrastructure, stimulate data innovation and build trust in the use of data.

One of the projects, in which Doncaster Council worked with service designer Uscreates, involved linking council data with career advisors to create a tool that helps young people find information about their options for training, education and employment.

It has led to the Social Mobility Opportunity Area Board in Doncaster signing off £100,000 of funding to develop a prototype over the next six months, with plans to go live in January next year.

Kent County Council and the Kent Energy Efficiency Partnership have also used the scheme to address fuel poverty in the country. Also working with Uscreates, they used a range of closed, shared, and open datasets to look at which segments of the population are more at risk, along with health and care needs by postcode.

Systems dynamic modelling also allowed the team to quantify the number people likely to be affected by fuel poverty and how that would impact the prevalence of chronic health conditions and the demand for healthcare.

Meanwhile North Lanarkshire Council worked with alongside Snook and UrbanTide to better understand demand for the business rate data and reduce Freedom of Information requests. And Waltham Forest Council partnered with The Audience Agency and Technology Box to install wifi access point technology inside all main rooms within the Vestry House Museum, as part of a wider project to help to increase engagement in arts, heritage and culture across the borough.

Each team consisted of a local authority and external partners who specialise in either service design, data, research or technology. They helped to build skills and knowledge across the teams for this and future projects.

ODI chief executive Jeni Tennison said that these four projects have show “how collaboration and open innovation can lead to novel approaches and build digital and data capability within local government teams.”

She added: “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.”

Minister for Digital & the Creative Industries Margot James said: “Used correctly, data can be an incredibly powerful tool to improve services used by people every day. It’s great to see that the Open Data Institute is promoting the positive use of data in ways which can stimulate the local economy and boost growth.”