ADR UK-sponsored event explores the importance of data in responding to Covid-19 both locally and nationally

Data Bites is a series of events exploring the ways in which government can make better use of data, to improve services and people’s lives. Each speaker is given eight minutes to talk, followed by another eight minutes to answer questions from the audience.

Scroll down for a video recording of the event, for those who missed it.

This month's line-up included:

Mark Green kicked off the event, showcasing the ADR UK-funded Local Data Spaces programme: helping local authorities tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. Mark described three models of engagement undertaken during the programme’s six-month pilot project: supporting local authorities to conduct their own analysis using local-level data; providing analytical support to authorities without their own research capacity; and finally, generating a series of data analysis reports for all local authorities in England. Mark stressed that local authorities were "in fire-fighting mode" when responding to the immediate effects of the pandemic, highlighting the importance of timely access to good quality data and analysis to inform their responses.

Nick Bailey followed, on how the UBDC has used big data to track the impact of the pandemic on people’s use of public spaces in and around Glasgow. He explained the use of data to track changes to footfall in Glasgow city centre, and to mobility across the broader urban area, in order to assist local authorities in their management of the pandemic and future recovery processes. Nick also emphasised the importance of the ‘Five Safes’ framework – safe data, safe person, safe project, safe place, safe output – for keeping data secure when used for research, a model used by the UBDC and all ADR UK data centres.

"Public faith rests upon making sure the public value of using data is made clear. There are always trade-offs, but the benefits clearly outweigh the risks."

Catherine Bromley, Deputy Director of Data Strategy & Infrastructure, ESRC

Next on the bill were Michaela Benzeval and Gemma Schwendel, on producing and using real time data about the impact of the pandemic on household income and the lives of low-income families. Michaela explained how the Understanding Society study was converted to collect real-time data during the pandemic; whilst Gemma spoke about the ways in which the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has used the study to understand the impact of the pandemic upon poverty. Gemma stressed the importance of retaining a “shift towards a multi-dimensional view of poverty”, highlighting the value of looking at measures of how people experience it beyond income alone – such as relating to education and health – to better understand and overcome the issue.

Catherine Bromley closed the event, speaking about UK social science data infrastructure – what’s worked during the pandemic, what’s been a challenge, and lessons for the future. When asked about the public acceptability of the use of data for research, Catherine explained that keeping public faith rests upon “making sure the public value of using data is made clear. There are always trade-offs, but the benefits clearly outweigh the risks”.

For those who missed it, a live recording of the event can be found below. The schedule of speakers is as follows:

  • Introduction by Gavin Freeguard (00:00:00-00:08:16)
  • Mark Green (00:08:16-00:23:52)
  • Nick Bailey (00:24:06-00:40:46)
  • Michaela Benzeval and Gemma Schwendel (00:40:59-00:58:12)
  • Catherine Bromley (00:58:25-01:16:08)

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