Use data to improve decision making, provide better services and promote innnovation in the city.
How we manage data is important to the city. Data-driven decision making has become the ‘norm’ for most private sector organisations but many local authorities have not embraced this change. Cardiff already holds vast amounts of data but up until now the main focus has been using the data for a targeted purpose – the potential benefits have not been fully realised. We will look to change this and ensure that we use data to develop more efficient and effective services.
Being more strategic with data will not only benefit Cardiff Council, it will benefit our partner organisations, businesses and citizens. It will give us insight into what works well, allow us to make evidence-based decisions and will move us towards more proactive methods of delivery.
Cardiff aims to be a city that uses data to make informed decisions. To succeed in this area we will embark on the following:
Cardiff holds vast amounts of data and it’s important that we become effective in data-driven decision making. Cardiff Council provides numerous services and like most public and private organisations it is impossible to find one software application that meets all our needs, as a result this creates data silos – where information does not flow freely between different departments.
To ensure we are moving forward in this area we will be more pragmatic with data and investigate ways of combining key datasets to ensure we are using data more effectively. We will be transparent with our use of data and work in line with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
We will use digital tools to create reports and dashboards so that we are in a position to gain useful business insight. We will investigate how we can become more predictive and prescriptive with our services using data analytics, data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Using data effectively will help us understand the city and its people’s needs. It will provide us with an opportunity to create better, more relevant services and allow us to make informed decisions.
- Ensure leaders and senior managers support a data culture – where data and analysis are used to inform decision and policy making.
- Create data challenges to prioritise the linking of high value datasets that could quickly make improvements to services.
- Adopt an agile approach to gathering, analyzing and interpreting datasets.
- Complete a Data Strategy which will act as a roadmap for all data related activity.
- Give employees the ability to visualise data using software.
- Investigate the use of a central integrated account as a gateway to services. This will prevent/reduce the duplication of data.
Connection and visualising data – Making informed decisions
We are adopting an agile approach to working with data. This will provide us with an opportunity to forge stronger relationship between our ICT departments and our business areas. It will create a sense of ‘joint ownership’ and accountability. The breaking down of cultural barriers will ensure that both the business area and our ICT departments have a chance to sit in the same room and exchange requirements, ideas and actions.
We have started working on a pilot project using data that is associated with our mobile applications and websites. The data we are using in this project is varied and ranges from the number of users who have visited a site, to user reviews and feedback. This data comes from a variety of sources such as Google Analytics, Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
The main aim of the project is to migrate the data into a central repository, ‘connect’ the data and then explore the data using visual reports (dashboards). The insight from this data will allow us to improve existing services and will ‘pave the way’ to us providing better services in the future.
The use of data will play a huge role in our economy and change the way that services are provided throughout the UK. Cardiff has an exciting opportunity to become an innovative, data-driven local authority who are pioneering with their use of data.
Our approach to using data more effectively starts with the acknowledgement that we have ‘skill gaps’ in this area. We intend to ‘bridge’ those skill gaps and demonstrate to employees the benefits of working with data.
We will look to identify staff who have a role in analysing data and then provide relevant staff training and development.
We will look to work with Cardiff University’s Data Innovation Research Institute, Data Science Academy and Data Innovation Accelerator, and look for opportunities to collaborate with other organisations that are proactive with data with a view of learning from their experiences and getting greater creative input.
Virtual assistant – Modernising customer contact and delivering new skills
The Virtual Assistant Project aims to modernise both internal and external customer contact and automate transactional services. A virtual assistant is able to perform tasks or services for an individual based on their commands. For instance, if a user wanted to know what day their waste and recycling are collected, the virtual assistant would be able to respond accurately and accordingly.
The proposals include:
- Two way conversations through a keyboard or smart device – driven by artificial intelligence.
- Voice recognition and speech synthesis – the customer’s speech is analysed and responded to accordingly using synthesised speech.
- Fly-tipping vision recognition (proof of concept) – the identification of items dumped through visual analysis.
During the implementation phases of this project our ICT teams will receive technical training to continue with subsequent phases of development. It is important that employees are given the opportunity to work with innovative technology and ‘keep up’ with industry change. The training delivered as part of this project will ensure we have the skills and knowledge required to meet our future aspirations for the virtual assistant project and other projects.
- Identify employees who have a role in analysing data and invest in training and development in areas such as data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
- Bring academia, the public and private sector together to improve how data is taught in schools and showcase how it is used in the wider world. The overall aim is to ensure children learn how to use and understand data effectively.
- Knowledge share with academia, public and private sector organisations who already use data to their advantage.
- Internally showcase products and projects where data has been used to make an impact.
- Create mentoring initiatives to further develop skills and knowledge in the use of data.
Cardiff Council intends to publish open data to become more transparent and accountable. We see open data as an opportunity to engage with and empower citizens. The publishing of open data is also welcomed by businesses, entrepreneurial startups and academics as it allows them to exploit gaps across markets, identify business opportunities, create new products and services and develop new business models.
The amount of data that Cardiff Council collects is likely to increase with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) as just about everything can now be sensed and measured. The data gathered from IoT devices will enhance the data that we already hold and allow for better decision making. The publishing of this data could also give our businesses and citizens the opportunity to develop new products and services.
It is fair to say that producing and publishing open data comes with various challenges ranging from licensing issues to continually publishing accurate, up-to-date data. However, it has already been embraced by many government organisations and there is now a huge range of open datasets available from various government organisations.
- Create an Open Data Strategy which will have clear objectives and deliverables.
- Work with stakeholders to investigate and prioritise high value datasets that would be beneficial to the city.
- Create a data store repository which allows easy access to open data in a non-propriety format, and encourage organisations to contribute their data.
- Work with our universities, public and private sector partners to share best practice around Open Data.
- Work with schools to investigate if data related projects could be fed into open data smart city projects. This would give young people an opportunity to be involved and help shape future thinking.
We have seen many smart city data projects ‘grind to a halt’ as local authorities and private sector companies have not been open or transparent with the way they are collecting, using or sharing data – Cardiff does not want to make the same mistake.
GDPR laws have strengthened the rights of data holders and have rightly made the public and private sector much more accountable to their residents, service users and customers.
If Cardiff is to succeed as a smart city it needs to gain public trust and show that it is transparent with its collection, use and sharing of data. There are already processes in place which look at various aspects of GDPR such as information governance and consent. However, the use of new digital technologies such as the use of sensors in public spaces and developments in artificial intelligence will need different ways of thinking as it brings with it a range of barriers such as trust, legal obstacles, ethical and moral dilemmas.
We will work with academics, businesses, public bodies and other cities to see how they have addressed public trust concerns and learn from their experiences. We will investigate the use of
‘data trusts’ frameworks. Data Trusts have been highlighted in the UK Industrial Strategy as a possible mechanism for the safe, secure and equitable transfer of data.
- Ensure citizens are informed of how we use their data through appropriate communication methods.
- Investigate the use of ‘data trusts’ and learn from Cities which have taken part in pilots.
- Investigate how we can improve data sharing in general by looking at a range of information sharing frameworks.
- Work collaboratively with academics, businesses, public bodies and other cities to investigate how they have improved public trust and learn from their experiences.