This report has argued that the greatest challenges facing today’s public sector - budget pressures, soaring demand for services and rising citizen expectations - cannot be solved by individual organisations acting in isolation.
Instead, we have made the case that public sector bodies should use data as a means of collaboration, breaking down silos and supporting better decision making.
Since 2015 we have proposed that Offices of Data Analytics are an effective means of achieving this. This report has provided a definition of Offices of Data Analytics. It has mapped and detailed practical examples of public sector organisations that have adopted the model, and it has explored their work and structure.
While their exact compositions may vary, all the ODAs described in this report are using data from different sources to diagnose the scale and distribution of problems in service delivery, create more accurate pictures of demand, and identify opportunities for service improvements. Most importantly, they are changing the way public sector organisations work, enabling better collaboration, prediction and prevention, and more targeted responses to cases of highest risk.
Happily, we have seen that the UK’s ODAs are gaining momentum. Many are securing external funding for their activities and a wider pool of partners to enhance their work.
Nesta will continue to champion these organisations, sharing their lessons and identifying opportunities to scale this approach. So what’s next? As a result of our research and conversations with existing ODAs, we’ve identified two opportunity areas for future development:
First, we will work to create an Offices of Data Analytics community of practice, where resources can be scaled up and used efficiently across members. Nesta will support ODAs to strengthen their networks, share best practice and tools, and identify opportunities to work on joint initiatives.
Second, we will help make the case for the wider adoption of the ODA model. Although more visible than two years ago, ODAs still face several obstacles. Stronger evidence is needed on their impact to ensure they can secure support and sustainable funding. We hope that by providing more evidence on the effectiveness of using data analytics to inform interventions and improve decision making, we can help more cities and regions apply this approach.
For the latest information on Nesta’s work on Offices of Data Analytics, please visit our project page.