Independent report

Local government use of data during the pandemic

The CDEI has published new analysis on the use of data in local government during the COVID-19 crisis.



What does this report cover?

The report draws on findings from a forum attended by local authorities across the country, in which they explored changes to data use during the pandemic and discussed barriers to data-driven innovation, as well as new research into public attitudes towards local data use.

What are the key findings?

  • The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the innovative use of data at a local level, with a range of data-driven interventions launched or repurposed during the pandemic. Examples include: the use of the ‘VIPER’ tool by local authorities in Essex, which has enabled emergency services to share data in real time; Argyll and Bute Council’s trial of drone technology to deliver vital medical supplies across its islands; Glasgow City Council’s online platform to promote social distancing; and Hackney Council’s analysis of internal and external datasets to help them identify residents who are vulnerable to COVID-19.

  • Health data has been shared with local authorities in new ways. For example, local authorities have received access to the NHS shielding patients database, allowing authorities to better target support, including food parcels and pharmacy deliveries, to vulnerable individuals.

  • Authorities have had more success in changing how they deploy existing datasets than in acquiring or sharing data with central government or local service providers.

  • For sustainable adoption, the governance of new technologies needs to be informed by engagement with local citizens to ensure that it is trustworthy. New polling shows that 50% of people want to engage with their local authority on how data is used to make decisions.

What happens next?

The CDEI is now working in partnership with local authorities, including Bristol City Council, to help them maximise the benefits of data and data-driven technologies, by building trustworthy governance that earns the confidence of citizens over the long-term. It is particularly keen to help local authorities that are less mature in their use of data, including rural and district councils.

Published 4 February 2021