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ecda Wins Research Award for Exploring Citizen Attitudes Towards Data Sharing

The Essex Centre for Data Analytics has been awarded Best Use of Local Area Research by LARIA (Local Area Research and Intelligence Association) for its research Exploring Citizen Attitudes Towards Data Sharing and Analytics within the Public Sector.

The research, carried out with residents during March to November 2020, provides valuable new understanding of peoples’ beliefs and attitudes towards joining and analysing data. The research concluded that people are relatively open to the idea of data sharing when it is explained to them but have some concerns that need addressing. 

“ecda and its core members, Essex County Council, Essex Police and the University of Essex, are very passionate about ensuring that citizens have a voice, and a role, in deciding how and why the Essex public sector should use data to support our most vulnerable and protect people from harm. The conversations held with residents as part of this research provided valuable insight, and greater understanding of peoples attitudes and beliefs around data sharing, and highlighted that fear has been inhibiting collaboration between the public sector and citizens, fear based on misconceptions stemming from a lack of opportunity and clarity in discussing data,” said Clare McLean, Communications and Engagement Manager Essex Centre for Data Analytics.

The citizens that took part in this research clearly articulated the minimum standards and conditions that they expected to be in place to guide data joining and analytics between public sector organisations. This meant that people were generally willing to look for solutions that enabled data joining and analytics to be carried out in a safe and secure way that protected their personal rights.

Most significantly the research presents a fresh perspective on engaging everyone in a meaningful conversation about data and analytics and shows that by involving citizens in imagining what is possible with data, and enabling them to shape delivery, we can go far together.

The detailed research report can be found here

The research has informed a set of practical recommendations, included in the report, which have shaped how ecda is collaborating with citizens, including creating roles for residents to be a part of the work, making adjustments to ecda practices and policies to provide greater reassurance, and communicating the measures ecda is taking to protect people's rights, and handle data securely and ethically.

The LARIA Awards are specifically designed to showcase the work of those researching local areas, award winners demonstrate “excellence in research and analysis that is making a real difference to the people they serve.”