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August 3, 2022

Why Are Councils Collecting Data and How Are They Using It?

Councils are collecting and using data to inform how they build safe and activated public spaces that foster community wellbeing. “Running a city or a local authority is, to a great extent, about managing and responding to information,” says Nesta. With the wealth of data available now in the modern age, councils are able to measure and track pretty much anything, from garbage collection, to public opinion, to community social needs and more. With the extensive amount of data available, councils are able to use it to inform how they build safe and activated public spaces that foster community wellbeing.


Nesta has identified a series of trends with how councils are collecting and using data to inform actions in public spaces. Predictive data uses analytics to predict trends and inform preventative measures against the negative of these trends. Councils can use these information databases to predict a wide variety of trends, including identifying locations that could be affected by fires and areas where children are at risk of not finishing school.


Data warehousing collates data from across local governments to enable in-depth population analysis, which provides frontline workers with a comprehensive outline of people receiving services within an area. This can greatly assist with how these services are delivered and ensures an inclusive and safe environment for all patients.


Geospatial analytics is one of the most established areas of data analysis in local government, with studies finding a cost-benefit ratio of a $7 return for every $2 spent. Geospatial analytics collects data from a range of sources including GPS, location sensors, social media, mobile devices, satellite imagery and more to build a ‘data visualisation’ that can help to locate trends in a local area and navigate the relationship between people and places. This kind of data is highly beneficial to the management of local government areas and is used to improve services such as telecommunications, weather responses, and urban planning and development. Taking this data, councils can use it to optimise garbage collection, manage traffic regulation and activate public spaces.


By using all of the data available, councils are creating smart places where environmental factors such as traffic, popular infrastructure, air pollution and public activity is measured to improve the ‘flow’ and experience of a public area. This kind of data allows councils to work on the development of public spaces to accommodate the rapid growth of urban infrastructure.


Finally, open data has allowed councils to become more engaged with local communities as they create a vital dialogues of data sharing. This allows developers and entrepreneurs to create businesses and services that will directly address a local concern. It also enables the building of mutual trust between communities and councils, and fosters spaces that are safe and welcoming for all patrons.


By continuing to invest in data analytics, councils are able to successfully foster local spaces that are responsive to the needs of the local environment and community.