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October 20, 2011 / Jo Ivens

DataBridge – Summary

This report brings together the summary and recommendations from chapters 3 and 4.

On data in needs assessments and commissioning cycle:

Brighton & Hove Council and statutory partners:

  • A diversity of information gathering and management systems can duplicate demands on the sector. There is no clear mechanism to feed this information into needs assessment or Intelligent Commissioning.

  • JSNA work in Intelligent Commissioning pilots has been good but could be improved by considering VCS data earlier and more fully.

  • Transparency of process and decision-making is just as important as transparency of data used.

  • There is an opportunity to build on national work and local VCS momentum in defining outcome measures.

  • Lack of clarity on overall ambitions on city-wide data sharing and how existing strands of work fit together.

  • The Duty to consider social value will be a key part of building strong social economy, improved public services and better value for money.

Voluntary & Community Sector:

  • Be more proactive, take control and drive the agenda through evidence. Use what is there already and use your own data resources better.

  • Engage early with data provision for needs assessment, and city-wide data sharing. This builds organisational credibility as a provider and helps shape the market for your services (thus serving your beneficiaries)

  • However, be cautious about giving away the family jewels, there is real value in your data.

  • There is an opportunity for the VCS to share data, scale services and provide better value for money, but also a need to reduce duplication of effort on exploring data-sharing.

  • Focus on what data and analysis is needed for internal management and business development as well as what is required by funders or commissioners

Recommendation 1:

Streamline monitoring or contract management data required of the voluntary and community sector from different parts of the Partnership through establishing a common monitoring framework. (see separate CVSF work on the Needs Assessment Survey)

  • Ensure that only what is required is collected

  • That it feeds systematically into needs assessment and the commissioning cycle

  • The voluntary sector should respond in terms of more standardised data formats to facilitate wider use

  • VCS should think more about own data requirements as well as funders’

Recommendation 2:

  • Intelligent Commissioning roll out & training includes ensuring VCS data is fed systematically into needs assessment and the commissioning cycle
  • More time needs to be allowed in future needs assessment and commissioning processes to enable appropriate and meaningful input from voluntary and community sector organisations
  • VCS leadership to encourage proactive sector engagement in information sharing for needs assessment by leading by example and sharing data actively and early.

Recommendation 3:

  • Support Advice Partnership bid to be a pilot area for developing National Standards for Outcome Measures and use as a basis for wider local work on outcome measures.
  • Establish cross-Partnership work on defining outcome measures to feed into both any common monitoring framework and work on outcomes based commissioning. This could be done on a commissioning round by round basis, starting with Financial Inclusion, to tie in with national work.

Recommendation 4:

  • Improved communication on city-wide intelligence ambitions and how existing strands of work are aligned to each other.
  • Involvement of all relevant partners in development of city-wide data sharing building on VCS-led work on data-sharing between partners.
  • VCS work on data-sharing within the sector should be brought together.

Recommendation 5:

  • BHCC makes a commitment to Social Value and to small independent providers (voluntary and community, social enterprise and SME businesses) and sets out a clear way of implementing this commitment into commissioning processes and decisions.
  • VCS work on defining and measuring social impact to be developed through Dialogue 50:50, building on previous work and existing skills within infrastructure organisations.

On open data:

Partnership (especially BHCC):

  • It will be important to turn general commitments on open data into a strategy that complements work on data sharing; stimulates social uses of open data as well as commercial, and links VCS with the developer or tech sector.

  • A local inventory of public data will be useful as long as it’s created with a range of users in mind. In the mean time, consolidating and publicising location of data on local populations (e.g. through BHLIS) will provide a quick win.

  • VCS and other external data helps create a richer more nuanced picture of need and impact. Decision-makers must be open to using all data sources.

  • Data held by VCS should be part of any City-wide data sharing. Consideration is needed of the complex issues for organisations and the culture of commissioners around use of data from a wide range of sources.

  • Transparency of process around decision-making, service planning and commissioning will be just as important as openness of data.

Voluntary Community Sector:

  • A greater focus on data and analysis as part of core business planning and management, and making the most of what data is already available publicly. Support is needed to locate and use existing data.

  • The challenges to VCS on open data are similar to those around more focused data-sharing – resourcing, capacity and skills, and concerns about loss of advantage or independence. It is a fine balance between engaging constructively in the strategic level and giving away your edge.

  • There is much that could be published as open data from the VCS, especially useful to local government in terms of identifying service failure and systems improvement.

Overall:

  • Behind the DataBridge project is the premise that having better, richer and more diverse sources of data and information will lead to the ability to make better, more informed decisions. However, it is rare that local decisions can be based solely on published data – a range of other factors need to be taken into account such as local priorities and politics. For this reason, transparency of process will be as important to public service improvement as transparency of data.

  • Open data is a means to an end, not the end itself. Open data could lead to better public services, but will need a specific focus on how it works in a social rather than commercial context.

  • Presentation of data (e.g. publishing accompanying analysis and/ or reporting the key messages) and support to use data are both important factors to be considered when releasing open data.

Recommendation 6:

  • Clarity from BHCC on its open data ambitions, including limitations, how to create links between sectors to use open data for service improvement and integration into other initiatives on City-wide intelligence.
  • When seeking to open data from public service providing organisations it is important that all suppliers are treated the same and that requirements are proportionate.

Recommendation 7:

  • BHCC create a useable, accessible local inventory of public data bearing in mind a range of users and levels of technical skill. This could build on the work by Paul Brewer on the Brighton & Hove Open Data list. As well as listing published data, it would be helpful to list the main data-sources held internally that are not published.

Recommendation 8:

  • BHCC strengthens the publication of data on local populations through BHLIS or other central point, and promotes this to VCS partners. Also BHCC to promote awareness of the support available to VCS organisations from council experts in the research, needs assessment and BHLIS teams.
  • Infrastructure organisations locally should take into account the open data agenda when planning infrastructure support for the future.
  • VCS infrastructure groups (and/ or CLG) should consider commissioning a support resource to help VCOs make better use of the data and research currently available.

Recommendation 9:

  • The Community & Voluntary Sector Forum be a partner in the council’s work on a City data / intelligence platform, with the Forum leading on how information and data from the sector can best be fed into the commissioning process.
  • Guidelines and training for commissioner and needs assessors to include using all the data available from a variety of sources, including new or non-traditional sources.

Recommendation 10:

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