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DataIQ Awards 2021 winner – Data for society: Public Health England, NHS England and NHS Improvement

DataIQ Awards 2021 winner - Data for society: Public Health England

A lack of knowledge can cost lives during a crisis. At the onset of the pandemic, the NHS and the UK Government knew that keeping the public informed would be vital to controlling the spread of infection. To address this need, Public Health England, NHS England and NHS Improvement established the Covid-19 public dashboard. Used by hundreds of thousands of people in England throughout the pandemic, the dashboard brings together essential data and statistics into an accurate and accessible platform. The dashboard has revolutionised the way the public uses data to inform decision-making and scrutinise government policy. 

An early hurdle for the team behind the dashboard was pooling the disparate sources of data collected by the various strands of England’s health and care system. In March 2020, NHS England and NHS Improvement partnered with NHSX to integrate this data into a single, secure location – the NHS Covid-19 data store. An integration platform then cleans and harmonises aggregate data, allowing for a single source of analysis. 

The Covid-19 public dashboard relays relevant information from the data store to the public. Around 200 metrics – adding up to almost 40 million individual figures – are published onto the dashboard every day at 4pm. This includes hospital admission, case and death rates. An interactive map allows users to break data down by region and neighbourhood, allowing the public to monitor the situation in their area and better understand and react to risk. 

The dashboard has grown to be one of the most important and reliable daily statistical publications in the UK, a point evidenced by 19 million weekly page views across the site. The site received 76.5 million hits in just 24 hours at the peak of the third lockdown. If the aim was to build public trust, the team behind the dashboard can make a strong claim to have succeeded. Recent polling shows that an outstanding 90.3% of users trust the dashboard, up from less than 50% in summer 2020. 

The success of the dashboard demonstrates the benefits and power of data and analysis when deployed on a large and urgent scale. By providing access to Covid-19 information, the team has empowered the public to take ownership of data and made decision making transparent at a time of immense strain and uncertainty. 

DataIQ Awards 2021
Year: 2021
Category: Data for Society

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