Better use of data

The use of data play an increasing role in designing, delivering and transforming public services to improve outcomes and drive efficiencies within current financial constraints.  More data than ever is available to provide the fuel for digital tools and services and is used in data analytics to get greater insights into user needs and local places.

We want to get a better understanding about the value of data in public service transformation and set out a vision to encourage local authorities to open up, share and better use data to:

  • Design services around user needs
  • Engage and empower citizens to build their communities
  • Drive efficiencies and public service transformation
  • Promote economic and social growth through the innovative use of data
  • Be transparent and publicly accountable

Nesta's new research programme - the Local Datavores - to help local authorities use data better

The LGA has partnered with Nesta's Local Datavores research programme which explores how local authorities can use data better to transform services and improve the lives of people and communities. The research looked at the ways in which data can help local authorities to solve the financial and demographic pressures they will face over the coming years. The final report, Wise Council: Insights from the cutting edge of data-driven local government, was published in November 2016.

Find out more about the programme and the workshops run throughout 2016 on the Datavores programme.

eLearning and online support services to promote good information practice within local government

The LGA has partnered with the Open Data Institute (ODI) to develop online practical aids and eLearning modules to promote good practice in local information management and to enhance the skills and knowhow of local government staff. An effective set of eLearning modules was developed and published in early 2016 to promote the use of information standards and open data publishing by local authorities. These modules were supported by a series of six online webinars, where tuition and questions and answers were provided to users in live online sessions in Spring 2016. Download the three eLearning modules and YouTube recordings of the webinars.

In early 2017, the LGA is continuing its partnership with ODI and developing a second series of elearning modules and supporting webinars to promote example case studies of how pioneering local authorities are making better use of data to support improved service delivery methods, efficiency savings and wider data re-use. These new eLearning modules will draw on the materials assembled in the Datavores project with Nesta mentioned above. More details will follow soon. We expect the modules to be published in February 2017 and the webinars to follow in March 2017. Promotion of wider local information as open data, drawing on local information standards.

Promotion of wider local information as open data, drawing on local information standards

The LGA has been a key advocate of open data publishing ever since the local government transparency agenda began to take shape in 2010. The release of local open data (when it comes from over 350 separate local sources) is only sensible and re-usable when it conforms to appropriate, minimal data standards to ensure consistency across the sector and to encourage easy discovery, aggregation and re-use.

A range of data publishing standards, schemas and practical search and publishing tools continue to be developed and released for general use on the LGA open data pages. In summer 2016, an exciting and innovative project was started to work with local service delivery groups and with wider open data and standards experts to develop a process and standard for all local authorities and their delivery partners to publish information about the local services that they offer. We have a vision to make it very easy for citizens or their carers to discover local services that are available and match or filter them to an individual's specific needs, circumstances or locality. The project is making good progress with an update briefing held in Lancashire County Council in December 2016.

Find out more about the specific project.

Local Transparency

The Local Government Association (LGA) supports authorities in their understanding of local transparency and open data through guidance, the development of common standards, tools and services and the sharing of good practice. Many local authorities increasingly release open data in meaningful and innovative ways and engage with local groups to make better use of it.

Making open data work

Local government received £2.64 million between 2013 and 2015 to help authorities to release and use data in meaningful, practical ways to engage with local people and improve local services. Most of the projects' evaluation reports have been published and outline what councils did, the impacts and benefits. The LGA has also collated some good practice case studies to help councils realise the potential of using open data.

Information Sharing: LGA response to the consultation

The LGA has responded to the government  consultation about enabling information sharing between public authorities to improve the lives of citizens and support decisions on the economy and society. The consultation document and accompanying illustrative clauses and consultation stage impact assessments can be found here. Our response is published here. For further information, please contact: transparency@local.gov.uk

Grant funding available to support data experts helping you make better use of your local data

The Local Government Association launched a small project within its Data & Digital programme to help local authorities achieve better use of their local data. Modest grant provision was available for successful proposals to support practical local projects.

We set out the project scope and called for bids here

It is intended that local authorities with aspirations to improve their local information management practices agree to work with other data experts in the sector to develop a modest project to improve how they manage and use local data. The data experts can be named individuals or another local authority team of your choosing or the LGA can suggest appropriate expertise if you are unsure where the best sources of advice might exist.

An overview of the successful projects chosen to receive grants and develop mini projects

18 January 2017