Twenty of us came together from 13 organisations in the grand surroundings of the Council Chamber of Essex County Council to share and learn from our experiences. The morning focused on both open data and big data.

Hendrik Grothuis (Cambridgeshire County Council) presented on the Cambridgeshire Insight Open Data project which was taking account for open data, engagement and quality.

Alison Matthews (Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils) followed this, giving their perspective of the Suffolk Open Data Project.

In both cases it was recognised that there were different types of customer who had different needs. Talking to them helps get systems in place to meet these. And some customers will be from inside your own organisation.

Professor Jerry Coakley (Essex Business School) introduced the work funded by the ESRC as part of its Big Data Phase 2 investment. The project included a high quality data facility with user support and knowledge exchange. They have received data from commercial organisations and there would be benefits for all linking this to data from Local Government. What also was on offer was training to help analysts use the latest data tools and techniques. We are looking to explore this with LARIA as a whole to see what we can all make from it. Big Data slides Jan 2015

We finished the morning with Tricia Capes (Essex County Council) giving us a quick tour round Essex Insight and flagging up the survey being carried out to see what users wanted. Essex Insight slides Jan 2015

A number of helpful tools in these areas were suggested:

After lunch we welcomed Ben Hughes, Head of Commissioning Public Health and Wellbeing in Essex who spoke about his passion for data and analysis to help him understand what works. He was clear also about the equal value in knowing openly if projects did not deliver the outcomes expected.

Stephen Simpkin and Zenith McIntyre-Allen (Essex County Council) gave a presentation on the work they were carrying out on demand forecasting and management. This stressed the importance for research and analysis in gathering clear robust evidence that backs-up (or dispels) myths or ‘what we think we know’.

East of England Postit notes

This was followed by a session when everyone wrote up their priorities and training needs. This will help us all look at ways we can work together to meet these. LARIA East priorities and training Jan 2015

And finally, our travels round the East of England continue, as people want to continue sharing and learning. Watch this space!

Summing up the day: “We’re not there yet, but we’re getting there”