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Realising the potential of combining science and policy

Public services across the country are now using big and small data to improve decision making and inform public service transformation and delivery. We can get more value from the data if we understand the potential – and use it well.

Strengthening the connection between science and policy, Essex County Council and the University of Essex have partnered to appoint a joint Chief Scientific Advisor, Dr. Slava Mikhaylov, Professor of Public Policy and Data Science.

The partnership utilises the expertise and research that exist within the University of Essex to inform and support Essex County Council decisions and policy development. While both organisations already use standard data sources (e.g. surveys) to inform strategic decisions, they recognise the potential that using large volumes data and innovative use of analytics could have to deliver greater efficiencies and improved services.

Together Essex County Council and the University of Essex are developing new methods to analyse and interpret large amounts of available data to feed into policy decisions that will drive the local economy and inform future planning of the county's environmental strategy, transport and infrastructure, public health and wellbeing.

The two partners are using cutting-edge technology to predict risk for the most vulnerable people in society, the goal is better prevention and early intervention, rather than later reaction through a project called Catalyst which has received £2.2 million funding from HEFCE.

The University's expertise in data analytics, big data and evaluation will be applied to assess risks and evaluate the impact and effectiveness of initiatives undertaken by Essex County Council.

Leader of Essex County Council, "Our ongoing partnership with the University of Essex puts us at the forefront of local authorities seeking innovative solutions to the challenges we face."