Local Data Spaces: Helping Local Authorities tackle the Covid-19 pandemic

The Local Data Spaces (LDS) programme is a collaboration between the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC), Office for National Statistics (ONS), the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and ADR UK.

The data

The LDS programme is using de-identified Covid-19 data from the national Test and Trace programme alongside health and administrative data from ONS and local authorities themselves, to understand the spread of the pandemic in their areas and its impact on their communities.

‘Local Data Spaces’ are secure, bespoke virtual research areas being created within ONS’s Secure Research Service (SRS). They enable local authorities – and regional groups of authorities – to access the data they need to inform their Covid response and understand its wider impacts.

What questions will this data help to answer?

ONS and ADR UK analysts are providing close support to ensure local authorities can get the most useful insights possible from the data to inform decisions.

A team of ADR UK-funded academic researchers from UCL, the University of Leeds and the University of Liverpool also provided analysis on behalf of local authorities in need of greater support, directed by their policy needs, as part of a six-month pilot period ending in April 2021. Research questions explored included:

  • What are the local drivers of the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on ethnic minorities?
  • What is the local and regional economic impact of the pandemic?
  • What are some of the causes of higher hospitalisation rates among some age groups, such as women aged 20-40, in the second wave?

While the analyses conducted by ADR UK-funded researchers was completed in partnership with a group of 25 local authorities, the work was extended to all other local authorities in England to allow them to benefit from the insights generated where relevant. A series of 10 reports for each local authority was therefore produced as a key output of the pilot project, and is now available to access for free on the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) website. Find out more about the reports.

What is the potential impact of this work?

Local authorities need to be empowered to make use of the best data available to inform and tailor local responses to the pandemic. However, the data infrastructure and skills available to do so vary greatly across the country.

The LDS programme is helping bring health and economic data together in a more accessible and digestible format for local authorities, with support to interpret the data provided where needed.

Project details

This programme of work is funded via the ADR UK Strategic Hub Fund and the ONS core ESRC grant as a key ADR UK infrastructure partner.

A group of four academic researchers were also funded via the Strategic Hub Fund – as additional funding to an existing ESRC investment in the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) – to provide analysis on behalf of local authorities in need of greater support:

Research leads: Maurizio Gibin (UCL), Mark Green (University of Liverpool), Jacob Macdonald (University of Liverpool) and Simon Leech (University of Leeds)

Funding amount: £132,917

Duration: November 2020 – April 2021

Categories: Data linkage programmes, Research using linked data, ADR England, Office for National Statistics, Health & Wellbeing, Housing & Communities, Inequality & Social Inclusion

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