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25 February, 2021 - 20:40 By Tony Quested

University of Essex advising UK Government on data analytics

Data scientists from the University of Essex are working with government officials to deliver training to explain how data analytics can be used to inform policymaking.

Along with governments around the world, the UK government has embraced data science as a method to gain valuable insight from vast datasets to support evidence-based policymaking. 

Local and central government have made important advances in the implementation of data analytics methods.

However, while data science projects are often developed and implemented by data scientists, it is vital the strategic stakeholders who commission data projects and use their insight to inform policy are also fully-versed in the concepts and tools of data science.

Since 2019, the university has been in partnership with the Open Innovation Team (OIT) – set up in 2016 to help government departments work more closely with academics to develop analysis and ideas in key policy areas.
As part of this collaboration, Essex data scientists have been working with the OIT to deliver a course in data science for the public sector aimed at policymakers and civil servants who may not be very familiar with the concepts and tools of data science.

Essex’s chief scientific adviser Dr Alejandro Quiroz Flores said: “This partnership joins the scientific expertise of multiple data science and AI  centres and institutes at the university with the OIT’s knowledge of central government priorities and the specific ways in which the data insight must be articulated for maximum impact.

“Data and data science are fundamental in the design and delivery of public services and we are working with the OIT to ultimately provide a product that will deliver an excellent understanding of the elements of a data science project to government officials.”

At Essex, many academics and researchers have already formed independent relationships with policymakers at different levels. This partnership with OIT aims to build an institutional relationship.

• PHOTOGRAPH: Essex’s chief scientific adviser Dr Alejandro Quiroz Flores

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