news | 04.09.2020 |

UBDC project on managing recovery from COVID-19 gains Scottish local government support

The Urban Big Data Centre (UBDC) is pleased to announce that a new ESRC-funded project on the data needs of local authorities in the wake of the pandemic is supported by Scottish local government.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents an enormous challenge to cities. UK local authorities that have been dealing with a decade of austerity and funding cuts must now also manage the economic and social recovery. This not only involves maintaining local services but also managing the consequences of ‘lockdown’ policies put in place to control the spread of the virus. As COVID-19 restrictions lift, the pressure is on local councils to examine how they operate, their use of technology and how they work with communities.

In this context, data intelligence, capabilities and uses, as well as access to real-time big data are seen by many as an important part of managing recovery at the local level. This ESRC-funded project on ‘Scottish Cities and Local Authorities in the Era of Covid-19: data needs, capabilities, and uses’ seeks to analyse how local governments utilise data, whether they increase their data capabilities, and/or identify new data needs in response to the crisis. 

Given the UK’s devolved approach to managing COVID-19, this project will focus on Scotland. The Scottish Government has devised a route map through, and out of, the crisis as well as a blueprint for economic recovery. Moreover, the Scottish case is of particular interest due to the presence of two local government networks: the Digital Office for Scottish Local Government, which encourages data-related collaboration; and the Scottish Cities Alliance which has a portfolio on smart cities and open data.

Explaining why the Digital Office for Scottish Local Government was supporting the project, Colin Birchenall, Chief Technology Officer, said:

“The project aligns with the Digital Office’s mission to support and enable councils to provide better services to their citizens through digital and data-driven transformation”.

Commenting on the research, Kimberley Hose, Head of Business Intelligence at Glasgow City Council, said:

“Your research on how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic shapes local authorities’ data needs, capabilities and uses has the potential to make a significant contribution by informing policy and practice through systematic and robust analysis.”

The research takes place between September 2020 and April 2021. More detail is available on the project page.

If you wish to discuss this project, please contact Simon Joss or Justine Gangneux.


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