If you were to ask me when I was young what would be the greatest thing I wanted to achieve, I would have told you I wanted to be an astronaut. Fortunately for everyone, including me, outer space does not have Sorin floating around in a space suit, but it has Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster. I would not have liked it, because now I know what I am really passionate about: collaborating with other analysts to actively shape things around us and enabling everyone to see the beauty of data. And this is exactly what Leanne from Essex County Fire & Rescue Service (ECFRS), and I, have managed to do since we started working together!
It is well known that fire and rescue services hold a lot of data, and ECFRS is committed to providing easily accessible information about its activity. So, when we, the Open Data team, approached ECFRS (virtually, of course) in the winter of 2020 to collaborate on transforming its open incident data into an interactive Power BI tool for public use, it was a no-brainer! Fast forward to April 2021, we have achieved the following:
Collaboration – a cross-organisational data focused dream team, albeit fuelled by coffee and featuring bad nerdy-jokes, who are keen to continue working together on cool data projects.
Jokes aside, this collaboration has reinforced and developed working relationships between members of our team and ECFRS. Microsoft Teams has enabled both organisations to communicate on a regular basis about progress with the tool design, production and data feed connection. Furthermore, this project has seen the successful technical connection between ECFRS and Essex Open Data team that will likely enable future collaboration opportunities (we have a lot of ideas in the pipeline and trust me, we are not stopping here!)
Innovation – Creation and publication of an incident focused interactive Power BI tool, and sharing of specialist knowledge among analysts.
The interactive tool is powered by Microsoft’s Power BI and features the last three years’ worth of open incident data. The tool has been structured based on different incident category types and includes a data dictionary to demystify terminology on fire and non-fire incidents, #NotJustFires. Furthermore, Leanne and I (the analysts on the project) have both shared skillsets and knowledge about our organisations and in doing so, we managed to solve a Power BI issue for Essex Fire, proving that our hours of making things work flawlessly in Power BI are finally starting to pay off.
Transparency – the tool provides the public with easily accessible information about ECFRS activity.
The publication of the #FireData interactive tool on Essex Open Data platform provides the public with one location to access a wealth of information about multiple subjects. The tool itself improves accessibility to ECFRS incident data and has been tested with members of both organisations to ensure it is easy to use. It can be found on our Open Data platform here and while this might be our first collaborative project, it is definitely not going to be the last one. Therefore, I recommend that you stay tuned and check the website regularly to see what else we will be uploading (hint: we’ve got data on everything Essex related!).
If you have any suggestions, be sure to email the Open Data team, or drop me a line if you want to know more of the reasons why I did not become an astronaut (it might involve Vertigo and my passion for having my feet on the ground at all times).
Sorin and Leanne