Information for the public

Information for the public

Our work has the power to influence society, however to do this we must sometimes use sensitive data. We understand the importance of ensuring the public are part of the conversation about how their data is used and in ensuring our processes are transparent.

About the Centre and its research

The Business and Local Government Data Research Centre is part of the ESRC funded Big Data Network Phase 2. The Centre carries out research relating to four streams which have the potential to benefit society. The Support for Vulnerable People stream investigates the support that vulnerable people need, such as children in the adoption system or adults requiring social care, and aims to generate evidence which government can use to make more effective policy decisions. Our Local Economic Growth stream investigates the key factors that hinder business growth and sustainability, with this information councils and government funded organisations such as Local Enterprise Partnerships can provide support to businesses and projects which have the potential to improve a local area, generate investment and create employment. The Mapping Public Access to Green Infrastructure stream aims to address a lack of information across the country about where green spaces are and whether they are accessible to the public. Once mapped a council can use this information to ensure growth plans consider the provision of such important spaces. These three thematic streams are supported by our cutting edge research on Methodologies for Big Data Analytics which ensures our research uses the latest techniques and maximises the possibilities of what data can be used for.

Our use of data

We use data that are routinely collected by business and local government organisations for social science research purposes. This is research that makes a difference: it shapes public policies and improves business and service planning; it makes voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective; and it helps inform wider society about what is really going on in modern Britain. To ensure data are used in an appropriate way all research projects we carry out must have the potential to benefit society and improve quality of life. Before, during and after use the data are kept in appropriate secure environments. This includes the use of special 'safe rooms' for our most controlled data.

Join in the conversation

We welcome everybody to join in the conversation about the ways data are used. Our 'Public Dialogues' event encouraged local people to do exactly that and you can read the report and our response online. In Autumn 2017 we held our 'Big Data Can...' event series at the University of Kent where the public, businesses, local authorities, charities and other organisations, as well as university academics, staff and students were able to quiz industry experts. You can access videos and slides from these events here to learn more about how the use of data is benefiting society and hear responses to people's concerns. Similarly in Autumn 2016 we held the 'Talk Big Data' series at the University of Essex alongside the Administrative Data Research Network (ADRN) and Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project (HRBDT). You can watch back those events now.

Future events, many of which are open to the public, are listed here. You can also join in the conversation and find out more about our work on our Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

Frequently asked questions

To find answers to further questions you may have about our research please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.