Using data securely and ethically to improve services, facilitate innovation and inform policy making

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On this page, find resources on the topic of data practices, and how they can improve services, facilitate innovation and inform policy making.

Resources and support

Case studies

City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council: Virtual Bradford – an open digital twin for the City of Bradford

Digital twins are an excellent tool that can be used to create what-if scenarios and enable data-driven decision making, which will be explored by the Council and others.

A digital twin for Bradford has always been an aspiration, however this is where Bradford firmly takes a step forward into the Digital Twin, Digital Revolution.

In 2017 Bradford signed up to a European Union funded project, Smart Cities + Open Data Re-use (SCORE), which is a partnership between nine cities and three universities including Amsterdam, Aarhus, Aberdeen, Bergen, Bradford, Dordrecht, Ghent, Gothenburg, Hamburg, University of Amsterdam, Aarhus University and University of Bradford. Collectively the partners develop innovative solutions based on open data and focus on sharing insights and methodologies for developing better public services.

The challenge was to create an open source, free from copyright, digital twin of Bradford that can be maintained by the Council and others. This essentially creates a 4D digital twin of Bradford to adapt to the dynamics of a richly diverse and evolving city. The digital twin will also have its own open-source data sharing platform that will be available to download free of charge from GitHub. All of this ensures that this challenge can be replicated elsewhere in the world.

Consultancy companies often create these digital twins on behalf of councils, as part of other projects/tenders. However, these are normally subject to copyright, are subject to vendor lock-in, and are therefore restrictive for local authorities to maintain. A council producing its own, open source, free from copyright, maintainable digital twin has the potential to facilitate reinvestment and expansion of the digital twin.

The approach has proven to be unlike any other related commercial contract that the Council team have previously entered into, with the ongoing partnership representing so much more since the team delivering this are based in Bradford and they want the best for the City.

The potential to stimulate growth, regeneration and innovation in and for Bradford is ultimately the aim for the digital twin. Whilst work is still in train to deliver the Virtual Bradford project it is not yet possible to realise or measure the full impact of the digital twin. However, it is already apparent that the digital twin will have a multitude of uses far beyond those that the Council originally envisaged. The Council will endeavour to return to this document and update it in 12 months.

For more information – please contact

Dundee City Council - Using data to tackle the climate emergency and meet net-zero commitments

In March 2018, Dundee City Council signed the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, with the Dundee Partnership committing to develop a Climate Action Plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045 or sooner whilst ensuring we are prepared for climate change.

The Covenant required that cities develop this plan in collaboration with public, private and community organisations to ensure cooperation and commitment across the City to meet the targets. 64 actions were identified by partners across the themes of Energy, Transport, Waste and Resilience.

To implement this action plan and manage expectations to deliver the 64 actions, the partnership has to baseline and measure the impact of the action plan through consultation, extensive engagement and awareness initiatives along with reliable data inputs. These measures will provide the partnership with the ability to measure and monitor the reductions from carbon saving actions to keep the programme on track for the city-wide effort.

To do this the council have onboarded ClimateView. This is a software modelling platform that can provide a coherent visualisation of the climate data held by the council, including current CO2 emissions per sector (i.e. fleets, buses or taxis), national average comparators, building project impact or electric vehicle prominence in the city. Incorporating this information can measure proposed and approved policies and indicators of how much progress is made.

This data will be fed into the software model to produce a dashboard that visualises the current image of climate change in the city. The overarching aim of the dashboard will allow the team to make the data accessible to stakeholders and the public while centralising the activities of members of the Dundee Partnership, a grouping of public, private and community organisations across the city. In December 2020, the first dashboard will be made publicly available.

The partnership has found that by digitising their data streams it has given them a simple way of measuring impact and provided key stakeholders such as CEOs and Cllrs with an easy to use and informative tool to keep track of work and city objectives. The tool has also given the council and partnership with a sustainable approach with officers being taught how to operate the model allowing them to independently input and supply the necessary data streams without having to rely on the supplier of ClimateView.

Lessons Learnt: Collaboration across multiple disciplines is essential.  There can be considerable overlap and also opportunities for cooperation between sectors.

There is a need to accurately quantify the emissions reduction of actions in order to assess our progress against targets.  This requires extensive scenario modelling and specialist knowledge.

Contact: Naomi Clarke, Sustainability and Climate Change Officer