How Big Data becomes Big Intelligence

Welcome to the Data and Analytics team! Firstly, we are all unapologetically nerds. If someone transcribed all the conversations all teams have across county hall, applied natural language processing techniques to tokenise and structure the prose, whacked it into analytical software – we would probably be able to use predictive analytics to determine which conversations have emanated from the dark doldrums of EUG (our own personal Bat Cave).

We live in a world where data exists everywhere. In 2016 it was estimated that 90% of the data that existed had been generated in the previous 2 years. This percent would have risen since. There is a direct relationship between how well organisations harness the intelligence within this data, and the performance and efficiency of the organisation. Those that do this well, tend to succeed.

Within the Data Analytics team we have deconstructed what we believe makes good intelligence that can inform decision making.
This starts with a good understanding of the organisations Strategic and Business Operations. Our team comes from various different backgrounds (we are; social scientists; statisticians; programmers; project managers; domain experts; and many other things), but consistently have considerable subject matter expertise and experience in local government across the board!

Critical to any good data analytics team, our Data Developers provide the expertise in the management of data and the data infrastructure itself. Good analysis lives or dies by the quality of the data itself. Rubbish in – rubbish out. Our team possess the technical skills and system know-how to ensure our work is possible.

Performance Officers and Analysts are then able to manipulate the data to start to tell a story. A relatively small dataset can have almost infinite outputs. Our officers and analysts are skilled at separating the wheat from the chaff, focussing on the areas that are going to give the biggest insight. At this stage what was simply ‘data’ starts to come alive a bit.

This next stage is when analysts, officers, senior analysts, et al, really earn their stripes. Collectively we possess a reputable armoury of statistical methodologies to analyse and model the ‘data’ further. Before your eyes gloss over and you navigate away from this page, I’m not going to go into any technical detail here. Over the course of the next few months we’ll be looking to share some of these approaches and their respective projects with you right here.

If we then presented commissioners with the outputs from a risk stratification model (for example), the chances are it would mean very little (no offence intended)! So our final all-important skill comes in contextualising and summarising the insight into key messages and recommendations. It is often the role of our Senior Analysts and Intelligence Managers to report and visualise the technical details in a meaningful way. We are keen to ensure that we make the best use of data available to us – turning it into real insight that helps improve the county and the lives of the residents’ within it.

We have aspirations to be the best local government Data Analytics team and are continually looking to build upon our core skillsets, working with local partners, academic institutes, and national networks.
We will be looking to share some of our work, ways of working, and team developments with you in this space. Come back and see us again.

Stephen Simpkin
Data Science Fellow; Data & Analytics

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