Councils should include data scientists, says Nesta

In its latest report, Nesta has called on the government to ringfence £4 million to enable data scientists to sift councils’ ‘data goldmines’.

The report, Wise Council: Insights from the cutting edge of data-driven local government, recommended that one per cent of the government's £450 million digital budget should be spent on embedding data analysts in local government.

It argued that co-locating data analysts and scientists in frontline council teams could improve day-to-day services such as recycling and council tax collection by ‘speeding up processes, minimising replication and making existing information more easily accessible’.

The innovation foundation also suggested that city regions bidding for devolved power should be required to create an office of data analytics as part of any deal.

Tom Symons, principal researcher in government innovation at Nesta, argued: “Councils are sitting on a treasure trove of potential insights on the communities in which they operate.

“While many councils are already using it to make services more effective and targeted many more are only just waking up to its potential.

“Embedding experts within these councils could be the catalyst for the culture change we need to see if they are to stay one step ahead of budget cuts and meet people’s evolving needs.”

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