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How Leeds City Council are using data to create better services


Leeds City Council feature in the recent Wise Council report by Nesta, which profiles some of the most pioneering uses of data in UK local government.

The report features eight in-depth case studies of councils, including Leeds, who have put better use of data at the heart of how they continue to deliver quality services in a harsh financial climate. This includes data-informed social workers, open data portals, sensors which tell gritting vans where there is snow and ice, and plastic frogs which record data about damp levels in people’s homes.

Key findings of the report

  • Councils are increasingly sophisticated in the way they use data.
  • The research suggests that there are few areas of council activity in which data can’t be used to help councils save money, improve services or inform decision making.
  • Getting value from data requires taking a ‘problem-oriented’ mindset, which looks for opportunities for data analysis to produce actionable and impactful insights.

Nesta highlight that “this is really just the beginning. Most councils are only just starting to get to grips with all the data they have, and all the ways they could use it to make improvements. The data held by the local government sector is a potential goldmine of insights into how to improve people’s lives and make our communities better. The case studies featured in this report are some of the first attempts at doing this. We will be doing more work over the next year to help the sector explore further opportunities to use their data. Alongside the report, we publish a summary paper which sets out in more detail Nesta’s ideas for how the sector can get more value from the data it holds.”

LIDA and Leeds City Council

As the report highlights, Policy and Intelligence teams from across the Council have been working with the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics since its foundation in July 2015.  The intelligence functions have a permanent base at LIDA enabling them to network with university staff, access powerful IT resources and work closely with academic staff on specific projects.  The partnership is now starting to identify the largest, cross cutting, challenges that the City is trying to combat, and how the expertise of the Council, LIDA and partners from other sectors can be brought together to address them, to shape the partnership and its agenda as it develops.

Read the full report and view the Leeds City Council case study on pg 52.