On 15th March, we attended the Greater London Authority’s Data Surgery for Civil Society organisations at City Hall.
What was it?
Thankfully for everyone who attended there was no medical surgery involved(!) - Data Surgeries bring together data volunteers (Data Analysts, Data Scientists, Researchers, etc.) and civil society organisations who have a specific data challenge or simply want to spend some time thinking how they can use their data or open data differently together for a 1-2-1 session. This gives the civil society organisation dedicated time and expertise to grapple with their own data, whilst giving the data volunteer an opportunity to understand some of the challenges facing London’s Civil Society.
During the session, we met organisations delivering a range of services around London from food banks to social prescriptions. All very worthwhile causes but boy were their challenges no easy feat… The challenges ranged from data capture and frameworks, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, Microsoft Excel/spreadsheets, data analysis, measuring impact and evaluation.
What did we learn?
It was a very rewarding session and gave us a greater appreciation of the challenges facing civil society organisations delivering vital services in society, often with great passion, but very limited resources and expertise with data. It gave us an increased awareness of the diverse network of civil society organisations, many of whom have shared goals and face similar challenges to us, really highlighting the potential for shared learning and partnership working.
It also emphasized the importance of our skills, knowledge and experience in tackling many of the challenges facing society.
And of course everyone loves a challenge… “There is no challenge more challenging than the challenge to improve yourself.” Anonymous
This experience has helped us consider how it could be replicated at ECC. Could we run our very own data surgeries? How can we support Civil Society organisations and external partners with their BIG and small data challenges? What about internal colleagues?
How does that sound? If you have any suggestion or ideas please let us know in the comments box below, or contact Rachel Newby or Zenith McIntyre-Allen.
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