Working with Government

The UBDC has built a strong track-record of close working with UK, devolved and local government, delivering valuable data and analysis to support policy and practice in a wide range of areas.

Our training and capacity building has also been taken up eagerly. There has been growing demand for all of this from government users and partners, spanning a wide range of departments and interests, e.g. local authorities, the Scottish and Welsh devolved administrations, several UK government departments, and public bodies such as ONS, VOA, Transport Scotland, and more. See below for some examples and links to further content on our work with government.

The private rented sector

The private rented sector is the most dynamic part of the current UK housing system, yet governments have long noted that data on the sector is particularly poor. We responded by prioritising work in this area. We negotiated licences with several organisations providing potentially useful data, including Zoopla, Nestoria, and Registers of Scotland. We also have a range of openly available data on housing in our Open Data Catalogue.

Our Data Collections being used to help government in other ways

Chris Watson of Bike for Good (the new name for Glasgow Bike Station), said "It’s very interesting reading. I like the in-depth weather conditions analysis especially! Interesting also that some smaller stations are often busier than the larger ones, e.g. Bellgrove beats George Sq. This is helpful for us in planning our setpoints (how many bikes should be at a station) and daily checks."

  • integrated Multimedia City Data (iMCD): we developed a novel, cutting edge, and hugely popular data collection for cities (and others) to use in understanding a range of factors at play in urban settings. Cities and other public bodies around the world have shown keen interest in using the data and imitating our model. More on this - including visualisations, ongoing research projects, and descriptions of the data available - in our Research projects section.
  • Putting citizens’ data at the heart of city transport planning: The Citizens at the City’s Heart project (Catch! for short) is a collaboration funded by Innovate UK, led by Travelai, and involving the Urban Big Data Centre, Ipswich Borough Council, Oxfordshire County Council, Leeds City Council, Newcastle City Council, Coventry City Council, the Consumer Data Research Centre, Transport Systems Catapult, transportAPI, elgin, and the behaviouralist.

Controlled Data for Research

We negotiate access to relevant datasets that require secure, SafeLab access through our Controlled Data Service. Examples where this is proving useful to government include:

  • Supporting independent living through the prediction and prevention of falls: a project on which we collaborated with Glasgow City Council to develop interventions to prevent falls by the elderly in Glasgow (update coming soon).
  • Renfrewshire Council social care data analysis: one of our PhD researchers, David Henderson, investigated the usefulness of Renfrewshire Council’s social care data, in collaboration with the Council.

Danny McAllion, Data Analytics and Research Manager at Renfrewshire council, said "This research will help move forward our understanding of how social care is currently delivered and assist us in improving the design and delivery of our services. Working with the UBDC has been a valuable experience and a good example of academia and Local Government sharing resources and expertise. We'll look for opportunities to work with them again in the future."

  • Looked after children in Scotland: public health researcher Dr Denise Brown is using our service to link data to investigate the health of looked after children (children in foster care, care facilities, etc.) – an area that is the responsibility of local authorities. This work will be disseminated to the Scottish Government and the Centre for Excellence for Looked after Children in Scotland (CELCIS).
  • Using Scottish Welfare Fund application data to map local-level deprivation and support: approved for use of the Controlled Data Service but not quite under way yet, this project will build on work undertaken with Dumfries and Galloway Council to establish how the recently constituted Scottish Welfare Fund is being delivered.

Capacity Building for Government

A range of government departments and agencies have utilised our well-reviewed training and capacity building programmes, and have partnered with us in our public engagement and knowledge activities through data challenges, workshops and training. For example:

  • Get the most out of your data - A Workshop for Local Authorities: We hosted ca 50 local authority representatives for this focus group style event designed to elicit and understand how local government might make use of big and complex data.
  • Training programmes: To date over 160 participants have attended our training programmes from government departments and public sector organisations including Scottish Government, North Ayrshire Council, Aberdeenshire Council and Glasgow City Council. Positive feedback from participants included:

“My team have benefited from this style of learning as could other analytical staff across the Council."

“The training was at a perfect pace with a logical step by step build of tasks. I did not expect to understand as much as I did so my expectations were exceeded.”

“We found the training SO good and the journey was definitely worthwhile.”

“I would definitely [attend] follow up courses.”