LOTI: Weeknote 66

Challenges with PHE and NHS Digital Covid-19 datasets

Building on the summary of data issues we collated with our community of Data Analysts and Managers, we collaborated with the Greater London Authority (GLA) to draft and submit a response to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s Call for Evidence on Data Transparency and Accountability during Covid-19. Our evidence covered the experience of the GLA and LOTI boroughs in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. You can read our submission here.

In the response, we shared:

  • How disease surveillance reporting has been inadequate for identifying and preventing the spread of Covid-19;
  • How the failure to record ethnicity data for Covid-19 cases deaths has limited local authorities’ ability to identify the disproportionate impact that Covid-19 has had on residents from Black, Asian or other Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds;
  • The impact of the delay in joined-up working between central and local government, which has resulted in challenges related to shielding lists, volunteering, test and trace, plus difficulties in accessing relevant data about people who are furloughed or economically vulnerable;
  • Our primary recommendations, which are for greater automation in the way datasets are shared with local government, improvements to data quality and better provision of metadata. The reasoning for these is set out in Jay’s recent article.

Beyond the call for evidence, we’re raising these issues directly with Public Health England and NHS Digital in meetings scheduled this week. As always, we welcome your thoughts and comments, which will help inform our future work in this area.

Covid Recovery: Data Exchange with the VCS

Last week, we held the final show and tell for Camden and Central Bedfordshire’s Covid-19 Challenge project, which has been funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) Digital team.

This project explores how we can overcome data sharing challenges between councils and the voluntary community sector (VCS) that hinder both sides from being able to find and provide residents with the right support when they need it.

In this final show and tell, the Delivery Managers (colleagues from FutureGov) shared what had been learned and some potential opportunities for specific pilots, which the next phase of the project will explore. One key message was that a lack of understanding between councils and their VCS colleagues is often a bigger barrier to effective collaboration than a lack of technology or data. Strong relationships and trust need to be developed before data can play its role.

Show and Tell #3 _ Data Exchange Project 29_10_2020

Similar to the approach used in LOTI projects, the project team resisted focusing on technology and jumping to a one-time solution. Instead, they’ve drawn on insights gained in discovery to develop plans for a community insights project. This seeks to bring together VCS and council staff to explore how different types of quantitative and qualitative data can be used to deliver better support to residents during the pandemic and beyond. The aim will be to combine the strengths, skills and capacity of both sectors to address shared blindspots and plan, analyse and respond as one.

If you’d like to learn more about the project, please visit the project page that now features all show and tell slides. We’d love to hear your views, so please do let us know what you think on Twitter. We’ll be finalising the report and user manual this week, and will share these with you all soon after.

A year after City Tools: London

As you may be aware, on 13 November 2019, we released City Tools: London at Big Data LDN, in partnership with Bloomberg Associates. City Tools comprised of a report and an interactive dashboard that maps technologies, contracts and skills across London’s boroughs. By making this information open and easily accessible, our intention was to empower boroughs to identify new opportunities to collaborate on technology procurement, re-shape the government technology market and improve the future of service delivery in London. Further information about the project can be found here.

City Tools report

We were pleased with the positive support we received for the tool and worked with the GLA’s Economic Development Team to develop a more user-friendly and advanced version of it, which we renamed as Thirty3 and launched at London Tech Week.

Over the course of a year, we’ve been working closely with boroughs and innovators in the government technology (GovTech) space to draft and agree on the common requirements they’d want to ensure are included in future tech tender and contracts. After months of engagement, it became evident that their overwhelming desire is for suppliers to grant them full and free access to their system data, preferably by API. To that end, LOTI has collaborated with procurement leads in boroughs to define common data access / API requirements for future tech tenders.

LOTI - Tender Wording for Data Access and API Requirements

In addition, we embarked on another strand of work to support borough officers to improve procurement processes, taking Housing Services contracts as an example of how things can be improved. We’ve been collaborating with the team at PUBLIC on three main areas:

  1. Creating Innovation in Procurement Guidance
  2. Applying the Innovation in Procurement Guidance to a specific opportunity
  3. Identifying future opportunities for boroughs to work together on procurements

Next week, to mark a year since the launch of City Tools: London, we’ll be sharing our thinking behind these various strands of work and how they complement one another, as well as the practicalities of enabling innovation in one sector by collaborating across multiple organisations. We’re also really excited to share the Innovation in Procurement guidance with you all and look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments on what we’ve developed.

This Week

This week, the LOTI Central Team will be:

  1. Meeting with our members to scope and design a community resilience project, starting in the new year.
  2. Meeting with colleagues from Public Health England and NHS, separately, to discuss the common challenges faced by our Data community in London boroughs, and potentially collaborate on solutions.
  3. Holding the latest LOTI and Microsoft virtual learning sessions for Digital Apprentices. Please register your interest to attend here.

For the daily download on all things LOTI, be sure to follow us on Twitter.

Eddie Copeland
2 November 2020 ·
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