https://ecda.blog.essex.gov.uk/2021/06/22/your-mission-should-you-choose-to-accept-it-is-world-leading-data-analytics/

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is world-leading data analytics

Are you and your organisation in the right place to “do data” well?  

At ecda, we’re strong believers in the power of data and analytics to improve decision making.  

Before I start to sound any more like a 1950s TV commercial, I'll explain why... 

We take a broad view of the capabilities organisations need, including: 

  • Data – organisations have access to the right data, in the right way to be able to provide analysis and insight to support decision making 
  • Skills – organisations have access to the skills required to do robust analysis of data 
  • Tools and technology – organisations have the right technology, including access to specialised software, to do data analytics 
  • Culture and organisation – organisations have a culture where decisions are informed by analysis. Analysts have a defined role in the organisation and managers are skilled at working with analysts. 

So, what have we done to support growth? (said in my best 50s TV voiceover voice) 

From our very early days, ecda has developed a network around our quarterly Be Part of the Equation workshops, bringing together analysts and data colleagues from organisations across the county. Sessions have covered diverse topics – from the technical ‘how to’ forecast in R, to softer issues such as identifying what type of analyst you are and the steps in a successful data project. 

We’ve also been working together to build a data “asset map” for the county. This work has given us all an understanding of culture, skills and use of data across the county. Unsurprisingly, we found a really mixed picture, with some organisations making use of advanced analytics and others who are early on in their data journey. Likewise some have embedded data strategies, and others have bold analysts forging a new path for data analysis. 

We’re now ready to take the next steps and build on what we have found through our many conversations to achieve our shared goals. 

Connecting the network, socially distanced of course 

The Be Part of the Equation network has been a success, with events typically attracting up to 50 analysts and lots of positive feedback. The county's analysts are a very diverse group of people – some with advanced qualifications delivering complex analytics and others who are looking at how best to present performance information. We will continue to present “plenary” sessions aimed at the whole group. But we are going to add more events focused on particular issues such as geographic information systems and data visualisation as well as some 'art of the possible' sessions to inspire and challenge us. We’re also looking at developing additional networking sessions – perhaps as a way of bringing analysts from smaller organisations together and giving them the space to share issues and showcase their use of data. 

BPOTE

Making sure people have access to skills training is key, there are always new developments for experienced analysts to learn about. Working with our partners at the University of Essex, we are developing training material ranging from introductory statistics, use of R, to more complex analytical methods and modelling. We will also share experiences of on-line training and of other development opportunities. 

ecda is building a set of resources for delivering successful data projects and we intend to share these with others. We have a project lifecycle clearly setting out the elements of a good data project and the points for reviewing progress. We are also opening up our Methodology Board (see the blog post we’re putting out next in the week) to provide advice on methods. And the Data Ethics Committee will provide independent advice on the ethics across the network.  

Finally, ecda has a data platform designed for secure sharing of data between organisations. We’re reviewing how best to develop the use of this platform to further enable our partner organisations. 

We want to make sure we’re linking in with people across the county. Do get in touch with us at ecda@essex.gov.uk if you want to connect or if you have ideas about building capability across the Essex public service ecosystem. 

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