Greater data literacy amongst the public, compiled with pressures to provide answers in the wake of the pandemic, has pushed the need for local governments to access up-to-date data, in order to administer better care and support to communities. This was one of the key findings recorded in a recent roundtable discussion, hosted by TrueCue.

Supported by Kirklees Council, the roundtable was attended by data analytics and intelligence leaders from within local government, to discuss how data analytics technology can support the public sector beyond COVID-19.

During the event, participants highlighted the biggest data challenges local governments had faced during the pandemic. These included an increased demand for analytics insights and for more advanced analytics such as data modelling. Ciaran Gallagher, Senior Consultant & Analytics Training Lead at TrueCue talked though the key points of the discussion:

“Major advancements in technology means we can now gather, process and share data in huge quantities and at super-fast speeds. The benefits of this to a crisis situation are obvious; decision-making becomes faster and much more informed.

“Throughout the crisis we’ve seen the need for advanced analytics at every turn – from the daily briefings to widespread media reporting on the pandemic. This was in fact, championed by the PM himself, stating government steps taken to tackle the crisis would be led by science and data. Inherently, this awareness transcended to the public; people essentially became much more data literate.”

According to Ciaran, the panel collectively agreed that a data driven culture was evolving amongst communities: “The participants reported an uptick in people asking more specific and urgent questions, requiring intelligent responses. In turn, this resulted in accelerated data governance processes. Investment in technology and education also increased in some cases, enabling more near real-time analysis. Finally, prioritisation of work improved, primarily for COVID-19 related reporting, but increasingly elsewhere too, as organisations become more suited to the new ways of working.

“Importantly, outputs were being seen faster, in weeks instead of months, in part due to the aforementioned, but also due to an acceptance of “rough and ready” (yet accurate) above finesse and polish of the final product.”

Ciaran concluded: “With people asking more specific questions and demanding fast, intelligent responses we are seeing a notable cultural change across the public sector. As we move into a post-COVID recovery we expect the government to increasingly prioritise data literacy as part of its recovery strategy as this will encourage better collaboration and knowledge sharing between local authorities responding to any future crisis.”