What a week!

Wowser, they do go past quickly don’t they? I can already see that I’m going to need to be a little more self-disciplined, and allow myself more reflection time during the week if I’m going to maintain a weekly week note.

That said, a lot of my week has been spent reflecting on the work that we’re doing and aligned with that, what will attract people to join our team when we got out to advert shortly. I’ve also been thinking about what we need to do in terms of our data journey and our aspirations to better understand (and anticipate) our citizens’ needs.

Smart meters

While on the subject of data, we had a wobble with our (all new and almost shiny) smart meter at home. It was last Monday, and I wasn’t home. Lucy was, and answered the knock on the door around lunchtime. It was an inspector from the electricity and gas company to check that our smart meter installation had been properly done.

Shortly after arriving he detected a gas leak. He turned off our supply and raised a call with the emergency team before heading off. The emergency team then found more faults, which the out-of-hours emergency team fixed at around 10pm. All-in-all not a great experience (although the out-of-doors team were fantastic), but not really much to do with data or digital, is it?

The story may not be, but the smart meter is — or should be — about data. In our case, it gives us near real-time electricity use, and what I can best describe as a ‘batchy’ and unpredictable gas use. It doesn’t seem to support data export, nor can I connect my phone or laptop to retrieve the data. Any kind of accessible and meaningful trend analysis is beyond me and I’ve found that the only element of the meter that is of any use to me is the little red or green ‘current consumption’ light.

That is a real disappointment, and opportunity missed. (Even if the problem is me rather than the device, and I have read the provided manual!)

Making better use of data

That leads on to something I learned recently. Utility companies hold a huge amount of data about us. They will often know if a customer has any special needs, if a customer is frail, elderly or has young children for example. They use this information to deliver a better service and to prioritise repairs.

As I reflect on the work that we do, I can’t help but wonder what we could achieve if we were able to share that data. The data about utility company customers would be really helpful in so many of our service situations. Data about electricity and gas use (on an aggregate level) would also be hugely useful in terms of our clean air agenda.

We often think of the data that we hold, and struggle to pull it all together. I wonder how we can start to bring together the wider data set, that isn’t exclusively ours, incrementally. It could really help with some of our place shaping, and better understanding of need could hugely improve the services that we deliver to our citizens; and how we deliver them.

Joining the dots, and a new charter on data?

At the Stroke Association board meeting I had the opportunity to meet and hear Professor Tony Rudd CBE recount the story of stroke and care through his career. It is amazing how far we have come, not just in how we care for stroke survivors but also in how we work across organisations to deliver care.

People hold that together across organisations, joining the dots and doing the right thing. The promise of data, people data and place data, is to do that reliably and repeatedly. And that needs a different approach to data.

I don’t know whether Data Trusts are the way forward, or whether Solid is the solution. We need one source of truth and clear personal ownership and control of our data (we each need the ability to share and to stop sharing our data for example). We need clarity on how our data will be used, and trust that it will only be used as specified.

… and on to week 26

I don’t think I’m going to get much time to reflect on my #weeknote this week (could that be a recurring theme?).

Looking to next week, I have my first meeting with the new Digital Services senior management group, feedback from our External Challengers, a workshop on our data future with Accenture, and a workshop on artificial intelligence.

I’m also looking forward to reading this interview.

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