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London government gets data science bootcamp


Mark Say Managing Editor

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A new bootcamp to increase data science skills across London’s local government has been launched by the London Office of Technology and Innovation (LOTI) and the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Data Science Campus.

As a first step, 15 officers working for London boroughs and the Greater London Authority (GLA) have been selected for the pilot cohort.

They will go through a 12-week programme blending structured training with project based mentoring, and develop coding and analysis skills for data matching projects. 

London Councils – the organisation within which LOTI works – said this will improve the officers’ ability to help London boroughs and the GLA use data to underpin policy and design more effective services.

The programme is modelled on the ‘applied training’ approach delivered by the ONS Data Science Campus, tailored to meet local needs in collaboration with LOTI, London boroughs and the GLA.

It also equips graduates to teach colleagues what they have learned through a ‘train the trainer’ approach.

Eddie Copeland, director of LOTI, said: "Using data intelligently and responsibly is absolutely key to enabling local government to be truly responsive to their residents' needs. This programme will help ensure that London boroughs have access to advanced data skills in-house, aiding them in using the information at their disposal to deliver better, more coordinated services for Londoners."   

Pandemic lessons

Theo Blackwell, London’s chief digital officer, said: “Joining up and analysing data is vital to the city’s response to the pandemic but when the crisis struck we simply didn’t have enough native data scientists working across local government.  As public services look at prevention – ill health, homelessness, poverty, violent crime – these all require a more sophisticated approach to sharing data and having the right teams in place to make a difference with it.

“So it’s really important that all public services develop their in-house data capability and I’m delighted the City Hall is supporting this work with ONS to upskill a new cohort of data scientists to support local public services.”

Alison Pritchard, deputy national statistician and director general for data capability at the Office for National Statistics said: “We hope that working with LOTI can provide a blueprint for future  programmes, bringing data skills to communities across the UK to really help the country harness the power of data at a local level.”

Image from London Councils

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