What types of insight do councils have to work with?

3 min readJul 27, 2021


How do councils currently deliver insight?

Councils broadly carry out the following insight tasks:

  • Get a better understanding of the people that use their services
  • Plan how to deliver outcomes they’re responsible for
  • Make decisions on how to allocate resources
  • Report and benchmark their performance to regulators and peers
  • Engage with communities and stakeholders
  • Evaluate how well they’ve delivered outcomes
  • Redesign or transform how they work
  • Develop a policy on future demand

5. What works well?

In terms of best practices:


  • Ensure there is a single senior sponsor to be accountable for the intelligence
  • The project manager clarifies accountabilities and expectations with a clear plan and structure
  • Agree on accountabilities between different providers of data you need to produce the intelligence


  • Build trust with people who need the intelligence and whose data you need
  • Help people define their requirements for the intelligence
  • Develop an awareness of who’s an intelligence expert on a particular issue or service


  • Use common data & insight models & standards to be able to share intelligence
  • Access and take part in networks with peers working on intelligence in your area
  • Speak to people you need or provide you with data before scoping new systems


  • Understand the importance of data quality and how to assure it
  • Test and learn how to use relevant research systems and models
  • Develop specialist expertise over commissioning it

Why do people want to collaborate in sharing data or insight?

  • Understand how to contribute to strategic priorities and outcomes
  • Value the importance of their work or service area to the overall organisation
  • Ensure their work connects with other complementary research or intelligence
  • Identify what other information people have to get a better understanding of the issue
  • Share how other people can use the intelligence they’ve provided to help their service
  • Enable isolated colleagues to get support from peers and be aware of strategic priorities
  • Share and access specialist expertise to carry out intelligence to anticipate and predict demand
  • Apply their expertise and knowledge to other service areas, in particular, strategic priorities

What are the barriers in the way to people collaborating?

  • Lack of time to contribute to projects outside of their current intelligence responsibilities
  • Lack of need to access other people’s data or expertise to help deliver their outcomes
  • The reluctance of people to share data they’ve got with others due to lack of trust or security permissions
  • The reluctance of people to accept being quality assured on an area of their work
  • Lack of strategic projects to contribute loses people’s interest in it
  • Risk of overlap between insight activities, or people commissioning intelligence that has already been done before

How can insight support services tackle issues from start to finish?




Head of Policy Design, Scrutiny & Partnerships @newhamlondon #localgov Co-founder of #systemschange & #servicedesign progs. inspired by @cescaalbanese