Last updated 16 November 2022
During the pandemic, we witnessed first-hand the potential that data has to save lives and livelihoods, enabling governments, businesses, and local authorities to share information efficiently
As we recover from the pandemic, data and analytics remain in sharp focus. Having seen its potential across some important use cases, it is now seen as a significant enabler for the efficiencies and economic growth needed within the UK. It is also central to the delivery of a range of vital public services and societal goals, from tackling climate change to enhancing critical citizen services. Read more in the National Data Strategy 2020.
But data and analytics is not an isolated function. It is an integral element of digital transformation programmes with data strategies being placed at the core of organisations.
What does this mean for local authorities?
The data opportunity is now recognised as vast and local authorities sit at the heart of it. Whether it’s protecting vulnerable children, collecting the bins, fixing housing repairs, gritting the roads, or helping local businesses to grow, data can help local authorities to perform these tasks more effectively.
By placing data at the heart of digital transformation, local authorities have the potential to deliver some important and exciting outcomes:
- services designed around user needs
- citizens engaged and empowered to build their communities
- efficiencies through public service transformation
- local economic and social growth
- enhanced transparency and public accountability
How integral is data to local authorities?
In 1 word – extremely. Local authorities are constantly managing and responding to information. As digital transformation journeys continue, they are collecting more and more data sets from a variety of newly digitised sources. These, combined with more conventional data, can offer valuable insights on the wide variety of activities that authorities perform. By using analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, decision-making can be enhanced and used to improve public services. For example, data-backed decisions can reduce crime, lower traffic congestion, improve the environment and provide more efficient services for citizens.
What is needed to exploit the potential?
Embracing data’s enormous potential doesn’t come without its challenges. It requires fresh thinking, continued democratisation of technology, interoperability between systems, cloud migration, and employees equipped with the necessary digital and data skills. And it’s no secret that we have a UK data skill gap, which only adds to the challenge. Many public sector organisations are grappling with squeezed budgets alongside the increasingly urgent need to train their existing employees and recruit new ones with the right skills.
Having a clear data strategy, alongside technology and infrastructure strategies is key. And lies at the heart of any digital transformation programme. According to Gartner, best practices to deploying an effective data strategy include:
- executive buy-in and change management
- an appreciation that data isn’t perfect
- embracing of data sharing and data exchange
- a diverse pool of data talent
- trust in compliance to improve data quality
- and a commitment to data ethics
What support is there for the public sector to improve data use, drive efficiency and improve services?
We have recently launched a ‘first of its kind’ Big Data and Analytics commercial agreement, which is designed specifically to support the creation of intelligent data and analytics functions across the UK public sector.
It offers a range of specialist data and analytics services and software. Local authorities (like the rest of the public sector) can procure a variety of requirements – from niche reporting and analytics projects to complete data service transformations. This will help them harness data, drive efficiencies and improve citizen services.
As well as helping ensuring excellent value for money, Big Data and Analytics ensures compliance with all appropriate procurement policies, for example, tackling modern slavery, social value and carbon net zero.
Its terms also allow for improved knowledge transfer between incumbent suppliers and buyers, when required by the buyer. For example, a local authority could procure a supplier to help design or overhaul their data strategy. Under the terms of the agreement the consultants would work with and upskill internal staff. If required within the specification, the supplier delivering that requirement will also be responsible for ensuring a full briefing and handover. By upskilling existing staff, the local authority improves capability and reduces the dependency to outsource key skills in future.
Big Data and Analytics’ simple 2 lot structure covers a wide range of capabilities across a strong pool of suppliers. Of the agreement’s 50 tier 1 suppliers, 46% are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). And all tier 1 suppliers are also able to sub-contract.
An optional down-select mechanism has been introduced within lot 1 for Design, Build and Run Professional Services that offers buyers the ability to create a shortlist of suppliers by 1 or more of the 6 pre-evaluated capability areas, assisting with agile call-offs.
Want to find out more?
If you would like to have a discussion with our data and analytics category team, please get in touch by completing our online form quoting ‘Big Data and Analytics category team’ and we will get back to you. To find out more about how CCS can support with other areas of digital transformation, download our new guide.