01 Jul 2024

Event round-up: Using data effectively to improve Net Zero decision-making in Local Government

The Local Public Services team at techUK was delighted to host this Local Government Innovation Roundtable where we looked at how we can use data in a more effective manner to be able to improve Net Zero decision-making within Local Government.

It was great to hear from Westminster City Council about their climate action plan which covers built environment, energy systems, transport and waste and consumption, green and resilient, analysis, insight and finance, engagement and diversity. Their mission is to understand how to best track progress in a holistic way and assess impacts from these pillars and tackle the challenge of city-wide data not being granular enough and of good quality to support decision-making. There are also issues with the quality of data they are getting which can make it difficult to forecast emissions and understand the carbon impact, as well as impacting reporting as the current process of data gathering is inefficient and time consuming. So, they are looking at how can they address the risks and automated process to gather data and convert it into emissions.

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They also have been able to develop in-house the Westminster’s Environmental Justice measure which is mapping the distribution of environmental conditions, climate impacts, and access to green, sustainable resources across Westminster. This map is used to focus and direct green funding, building decarbonisation and is helping targeting interventions on those areas where is most needed. Some of the areas for development they are looking at are citywide data timeliness and spatial granularity, improved medium term forecasting on major works/planning, understanding how to collect data across different stakeholders and map out this data.

The roundtable conversation addressed how we can receive more support from central government to address the nationalisation of data collections and frameworks so that councils don’t do this in isolation moving forward, as once you have the data then you can take actionable outputs. This links to the lack of cohesion between local authorities and central government organisations when it comes to helping address the challenges around data standards and being able to replicate work similar to what Westminster City Council has been doing to map out the data. It was also pointed out that this is the case around services across the whole piece, not just environment and as an example, part of our Local Public Services Committee there is an influence sub-group who is looking at the lobbying and influencing piece to address this. We can also do more when it comes to helping local authorities spread the word about some of their initiatives in this space as we are seeing the common theme of the lack of data standardisation.

We also discussed the need to understand the differences and challenges around scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions as well as the business impact on the planet, as well as collecting the right data and using AI to see which orgs require what in the long term. There were also a few initiatives mentioned which could help to learn from such as the Sustainable Scotland Network providing a standard tool for all public sector bodies, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland with a single go-to place for data, as well as a partnership between Hitachi, HPE and Computacentre as a sustainable digital alliance to support government on digital topics. The call to action here was to raise awareness of how digital and tech innovation can support sustainability initiatives through better defined standards and frameworks as well as alliances and partnerships. The commercialisation of data was also discussed and the need for devolved governments to come together on an agreement and we should bring stakeholders together to address this.

It's also important to understand what tech and digital solutions industry can bring as each data set from different sources and across sectors comes with different challenges, especially when tyring to map it all out across the council. This means having constantly updated live data across the sectors and have it available in one place where you can interact with and use it to make decisions. We know we have the tech solutions however we need to address the data sharing and culture issues around data collection, utilisation, procurement across an organisation. Councils should also build data requirements into all processes including in procurement and drive organisations and suppliers to provide them with the right quality data moving forward.

There also needs to be more support when it comes to investment on data initiatives in councils and learn from others who are making progress in this such as Westminster City Council, so we can understand better where investment is required for data driven organisations and helping with the optimisation of data usage and transform it into outputs. As there is a fundamental shift around climate, we need to look at how to use funding, whether by aligning public funding budgets or having access to private funding to support this.

Stay in touch as we will continue with other conversations part of this series.

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Find out more about our Local Public Services Committee here.

Ileana Lupsa

Ileana Lupsa

Programme Manager, Local Public Services and Nations and Regions, techUK

Ileana Lupsa is the Programme Manager for Local Public Services and Nations and Regions, at techUK.

Ileana studied electronics, telecommunications and IT as an undergraduate, followed by an MSc in engineering and project management at Coventry University.

She refined her programme management expertise through her most recent roles working in the automotive industry.

Ileana is passionate about sustainability and creating a positive impact globally through innovation.

[email protected]

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Georgina Maratheftis

Georgina Maratheftis

Associate Director, Local Public Services, techUK

Georgina is techUK’s Associate Director for Local Public Services

Georgina works with suppliers that are active or looking to break into the market as well as with local public services to create the conditions for meaningful transformation. techUK regularly bring together local public services and supplier community to horizon scan and explore how the technologies of today and tomorrow can help solve some of the most pressing problems our communities face and improve outcomes for our people and places.

Prior to techUK, Georgina worked for a public policy events company where she managed the policy briefing division and was responsible for generating new ideas for events that would add value to the public sector. Georgina worked across a number of portfolios from education, criminal justice, and health but had a particular interest in public sector transformation and technology. Georgina also led on developing relationships across central and local government.

If you’d like to learn more about techUK, or want to get involved, get in touch.

[email protected]
020 7331 2029

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techUK's Local Public Services Programme provides the forum for local public services to engage with industry to better understand the innovations out there, horizon-scan how the technologies of today and tomorrow can re-imagine local public services and solve some of the most pressing challenges our communities and places face. It also helps connect suppliers with each other, identify new business partnerships to help grow an ever thriving local government ecosystem.

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