Creating and delivering policy requires access to high quality, relevant data. Most land and housing data is created by local authorities, who report it according to government regulations or guidelines.
But the data isn’t always fit for policymakers’ purposes.
This is partly because government guidelines for submission are often vague or nonexistent, leading local authorities to submit data:
- in a range of file types
- using inconsistent formats
- with different metadata fields
- in different orders
As a result it’s often very difficult for policymakers to process and use this data.
And while the published information is produced using a variety of datasets, those underlying datasets aren’t available. Policy teams then have to invest time and money trying to extract the data from the information published in documents and reports – which can be like trying to remove eggs from a cake.
Finally, to be fit for purpose data also needs to be more than just consistent and reliable. It must be the data that’s needed to support decision making. To get that essential data, policymakers must first make sure they’re asking the right questions.
Our offer to policymakers
We’re developing a data design service that aims to help policy teams to:
- think about exactly what questions they need data to answer
- ask local authorities and others for the right data to answer those questions
- create data specifications that ensure consistency and make it easier for authorities to supply the data
- create user friendly guidance for publishing data according to a specification
We’re building the service based on insights we’ve gained from our current projects. We’ve been investigating how data can be improved for specific land and housing concerns or other data dependent areas of land and housing policy. Our data design service will include guidance on running workshops and consultations that engage with everyone involved in the production, maintenance and consumption of data.
Insights from the workshops and consultations will help policymakers develop better data specifications and registers. These in turn should lead to higher quality data that is:
- better able to support policy aims
- easier for local planning authorities to maintain
- easier to find, understand, use and trust
If you’re a policymaker whose work involves a concern or area covered by one of our projects, we’d value your insights. Please get involved in the conversation on our GitHub issues page.