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Socitm points to New York as model for councils looking to drive ‘data-driven solutions’ locally

Local authorities thinking about how to drive ‘data-driven solutions’ locally could find their model in New York says Big data: What does it mean to ‘do’ it? the latest briefing from Socitm Insight.

The briefing draws on a report by the Policy Exchange’s Capital City Foundation, a new think-tank whose recent report, Big Data in the Big Applerecommends that London should replicate New York’s success by setting up a Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA).

The same approach could actually be adopted anywhere, says Socitm, including in some of the UK locations like Leeds, Greater Manchester and Birmingham, that have already developed open data initiatives but which have nothing as yet that quite parallels New York’s MODA, its staffing and resourcing.

Big data: What does it mean to ‘do’ it?reports that New York’s journey started in earnest with the firm, public commitment in an Executive Order in April 2013 that established MODA with its high level reporting lines and a brief to ‘work with agencies to implement data-driven solutions to city service delivery issues’. This straightforward mandate enabled MODA to begin:

  • identifying how how data held by City agencies can be analyzed and combined with other agencies’ data to best fulfil their respective missions
  • developing a city-wide data platform so that data regarding a single address, business or individual previously isolated within individual agencies can be shared
  • overseeing data projects
  • liaising with outside partners contributing to or using city data.
  • ensuring compliance by city agencies with the Open Data Law (something that is undoubtedly helpful in promoting an ethos that data is at least potentially shareable)

The Mayor’s Office Of Data (MODA) is headed by a Chief Analytics Officer who reports upwards to those with obviously strategic interests (strategic planning, operations, economic development and ICT). The role is now supported by a Director of Analytics, a Director of Public Affairs and a Director of Strategy and Operations.

The briefing examines and explains the 10-step model used by MODA to pursue its big data brief in collaboration with city services and agencies, and suggests that, if something similar were in operation by councils in the UK, this could potentially enable:

  • intelligently designed shared services
  • action against planning violations
  • identification of empty homes
  • the fight against tax and benefits fraud
  • targeting of food safety inspections
  • boosting growth of new businesses

Learning from the MODA experience, which will have a familiar ring to those experienced in data projects, is also set out in the briefing and includes the following:

  • data can only make a difference if there is the political will to use it
  • data models must be shaped by front-line experience and expertise
  • there must be focus on projects that will deliver tangible benefits and improvements in service
  • using data does not require vast numbers of specialised personnel, new layers of bureaucracy or the procurement of high-end technology

The briefing quotes Mike Flowers, founding director of New York’s Mayor’s Office Of Data Analytics reminding readers that ‘the point of all this effort is to help your city and its people thrive. Keep all this in mind. Just dive in and do it. You may be amazed at what you find.’

Big data: What does it mean to ‘do’ it?  is available free of charge to Socitm corporate members and Insight subscribers at: https://khub.net/

Further information
Vicky Sargent, Socitm Press Office
Tel: 07726 601 139 email: vicky.sargent@socitm.net
Martin Greenwood, Programme Manager, Socitm Insight
Tel: 01926 498703 e-mail: martin.greenwood@socitm.net