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Past event: How data can shape your policy and decision making

As data experts we're pragmatic enough to understand that it's often used in support of existing decisions rather than being the start point for change. Just for a few minutes though, let’s take a look at the impact data can have when it's the catalyst.

Here's what we discussed in our latest public sector webinar where we looked at four projects that have data at the heart of policy and decision making.

  1. Supporting the journey to Carbon Net Zero for the UK

  2. Deciding how to Level Up Britain

  3. Overcoming misinformation to help get the world vaccinated

  4. Helping Department for Education to recruit more teachers

Supporting the journey to Carbon Net Zero for the UK

Kicking things off, Adam Mackenzie-Jones, Head of Net Zero Systems at Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) explained how, back in January 2020, the co-chairs of the Council of Science and Technology wrote to the Prime Minister, requesting a systems approach to Net Zero. UK’s Net Zero Strategy (NZS) outlined how government would approach the net zero challenge, the transformation needed and how taking a systems approach to policy would help to navigate this complexity. Environment, society and economy needed to be considered as parts of an interconnected system, where changes to one area can directly or indirectly impact others.

BEIS successfully applied for funding from HM Treasury to develop a Net Zero Systems Tool within systems such as Land-Use and Heat & Buildings. With the help of Transform, the system tool illustrated the key variables and their interactions. The interactive tool allows users to enact change on variables within the system and clearly visualise how the effect of this change propagates through other parts of the system. This highlights areas of further research required to fully understand policy decisions and the necessity for strong coordination by multiple parties across the public and private sectors.

An example of how the tool displays changes within the system. Here increasing the gas demand of the country is shown to cause further changes within the system such as an increased price of gas and in the longer term a reduction in gas boiler installations.

Deciding how to Level Up Britain

Next up, Patrick explained how we helped HM Treasury in Levelling Up Britain, a major focus at the moment. The government's understanding of any spending below regional levels was inadequate. The build of a PowerBI dashboard displayed the breakdown of spend at a local authority level, displaying data from 45+ funds across 9 different government departments. The resulting dashboard allows for policy advisors to make informed decisions in the allocation of government funding to areas most in need.

Overcoming misinformation to help get the world vaccinated

Our chair for the session, Transform’s CDO, Will Lowe, then, explained how Transform used data to support Cabinet Office in its desire to take global leadership during the pandemic. At the beginning of 2021, the global priority was to get people vaccinated as fast as possible and to find the best way to supply less developed countries with extra jabs.

With the goal of countering misinformation, Transform worked on 3 different areas:

  • Creating a global dashboard (broken at a social, geographical and demographical level) which reflected different sentiments towards vaccines

  • Listening to significant amounts of official news and social media in every country around the world, sorting them by different categories and analysing them to understand the shape of the narrative

  • Producing ready-to-go communications for the World Health Organization to drive overall confidence in vaccines, but also to warn people of the dangers of misinformation

Will showed us the dashboards and explained that the difference here was ingesting lots and lots of data from many different sources. Tracking so many variables turned out to be incredibly important to make decisions in such a critical moment.

Helping Department for Education to recruit more teachers

Finally, Shivani talked us through the Get Into Teaching project for Department for Education, which has the mission to provide every child with good quality teachers. To achieve this, we had to do a complete redesign of DfE’s website, changing their user experience, reducing content and changing the way they collect information.

Embracing agile practices, we built a weekly process where we embedded analytics evaluations from different sources and presented back actionable insights. This helped DfE create a truly data driven culture, where we could practice experimentation, shift the mindset of failure and start to learn from that.

Shivani underlined that one of the biggest achievements of this project has been the cultural change – DfE’s attitude towards testing and failure changed dramatically and made them realise the power of a test and learn approach.

Image by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

These case studies tackled significant challenges, all made easier by the use of data. We’d love to talk to you about your challenges with data, whether that’s a quality, legacy tech or cultural issue, we’re confident we can help you.

If you’d like to see a recording of the webinar or talk to us about your challenge, email us at

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