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This report explores what an Office of Data Analytics (ODA) is, providing examples from around the UK and highlighting best practice and good ideas.

The UK’s public sector faces enormous pressures.

Reductions in budgets, soaring demand for certain services, and rising citizen expectations are all requiring public sector organisations to rethink how they deliver their services, deploy their assets and make best use of their staff. Business as usual is not an option.

The broad direction of travel for reforms that could respond to these pressures is well understood. Public sector organisations know that, ideally, they should move to service models based on prediction and prevention (or at least prediction and earlier intervention), rather than responding to failure after it happens. They want to be able to deploy their resources towards cases of highest need, instead of dealing with demand on a first-come-first-served basis. They wish to be able to intelligently coordinate the actions of different teams, instead of multiple agencies operating in mutual ignorance of each other’s interventions. And they want work together to see where teams, assets and insights could more effectively be shared between organisations.

Data is an enabler of all these desirable ways of working. Yet the greatest potential can be unlocked when multiple public sector organisations agree to use their collective data to collaborate more effectively. Given the complex and geographically-diffuse nature of many modern social issues, successfully improving public services requires public sector bodies to join up, analyse and act upon their data at a city or regional scale.

Nesta has championed the model of Offices of Data Analytics (ODA) as an effective means for achieving this aim. Taking inspiration from New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics, established during the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, we and others have worked to adapt the ODA model for a UK setting, while keeping true to its original aim of enabling better services and decision making through data analytics.

Happily, the model is now gaining serious traction in the UK. The state and progress of the UK’s Offices of Data Analytics is the subject of this report. In the following pages we highlight the work of nine such ODAs, exploring the reasons for their founding, the structure and model they have adopted, the approach to data analytics they have taken, and the challenge areas they have sought to address with data.

We have two main aims in drawing attention to their work. First, we hope to assist the UK’s existing ODAs learn from each other’s successes and challenges; enhancing and accelerating all their work. Second, we hope to provide useful guidance for other cities and regions that may wish to establish their own ODAs, and who may be wondering where to start.

Wherever you are on your data journey, we hope you will find useful insights in the following pages to inform your future work.

Key Findings

  • We’ve identified nine initiatives that we classify as Offices of Data Analytics across the UK;
  • There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to setting up an Office of Data Analytics. Each one is structured differently, and is governed through different frameworks. In the report, we will explore the common features and partnerships across multiple organisations;
  • The existing Offices of Data Analytics are all at different stages, conducting different types of pilots. These will be analysed both in a section of lessons learnt and in-depth studies of each ODA.

Authors

Michelle Eaton

Michelle Eaton

Michelle Eaton

Programme Manager

Michelle worked in the Government Innovation team on how the smarter use of data and technology can help civil society and public sector organisations deliver services, better.

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Camilla Bertoncin

Camilla Bertoncin

Camilla Bertoncin

Assistant Programme Manager, Government Innovation Team

Camilla is an Assistant Programme Manager in the Government Innovation Team.

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