Having moved to the Digital Team from a data organisation, I brought with me a passionate view about the opportunity that data gives us when planning and developing services. I’m aware that not everyone shares this view, but I’m hopeful that this can change.
When used well, data can provide real insight, and real insight is precious, especially when we try to understand the needs of service users to inform the improvement of our services.
Firstly we need to understand what data we need and why.
There is sometimes a tendency to collect as much data as possible without much thought going to how it will be used, but there is little value in being data-rich yet information-poor. Planning and consideration needs to go into every data collection exercise to ensure that only the right data is being collected to get the information you need. Consider what other data sources are available and whether this data can complement your analysis and help you paint a more detailed picture.
We also need to be confident using data to extract insight.
This can seem daunting to some, but with the right guidance and using the right tools we can all learn how to view data in a way that shows the patterns and trends that can help to inform our planning and decision making. If you lack confidence with data there are courses and resources available that could help you, the Data Cymru DataBasic training programme is one example.
More data is being collected now than ever before, but is it being shared and used in the best way?
We know that across local government the same data is being collected multiple times by different services and authorities, but this is not best use of anyone’s resource. Communicate your data needs across different networks and you may be surprised by how much relevant data has already been collected and is open to use.
And we encourage you to share your data in a way that makes it easy for other organisations to access and use. This openness and transparency is not only helpful in informing the research and planning of others, it goes a long way to promoting democracy across local government in Wales.
If you would like to know about data you can e-mail us firstname.lastname@example.org