Venue : ZoomEvent details
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On 20th April 2023, Stanford University’s Center for Population Health Science, Born in Bradford and the Centre for Applied Education Research launched the Integrated Data Engine of Analytics (IDEA) Centre.
The IDEA Centre is a community of practice that brings practitioners and policymakers together with the academic community to improve public service delivery in Bradford through connected data science and trail a blaze for cities throughout the US and the UK.
John Wright, Director of Bradford Institute for Health Research and Chief Investigator for Born in Bradford (BiB), welcomed everyone to the event. He described the history of Born in Bradford, a longitudinal birth cohort study following the lives of >13,500 children with rich genetic and phenotypic information describing every aspect of the childrens’ lives in rich detail. John explained that troutine administrative data is critical, and perhaps the most powerful resource within BiB for providing research insights and driving policy changes.
John also provided an overview of the Connected Bradford programme – a linkage of routine data (for over 600,000 people) including health, education, social care, police, housing services data linked to a myriad of factors such as air quality.
Anne Longfield CBE, Chair of the Commission on Young Lives and former Children’s Commissioner for England, delivered the keynote speech, calling for those in attendance and those who will be a part of the IDEA Centre to be the “warriors” desperately needed by vulnerable children throughout the world.
Anne described her previous work as Children’s Commissioner and the childhood vulnerability indicators developed during her tenure. Such work demonstrated the possibilities of what could be done when routine data were used to identify problems (and solutions). The data were presented as evidence to politicians, showing where problems existed within their constituencies, where there were vulnerabilities and what needed to be addressed, in particular during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anne called for the IDEA centre to use the powerful data within Connected Bradford to identify early signs of vulnerability and bring the data and evidence forward to make a case for change. There is the potential to transform lives through early intervention since, as Anne stated:
“A poor childhood can be a huge hurdle to overcome, [and] a brilliant childhood can be a huge springboard into life.”
Anne emphasized that we need collaboration, expertise, data, and the translation of evidence from the data into policies. Since those who are delivering the services do not often have time to or resources to make needed changes, there is more of an emphasis on crisis intervention and less of a focus on prevention and service innovation. There are also different ways of working and goals within and across agencies, and a lack of clarity for where responsibility lies. What is needed is coherent evidence-based support, for different actors to agree on what the questions are to be asking, to identify problems early, to have a collective understanding of what findings from the data mean, and to put support in place to prevent problems escalating.
Anne concluded: “there is enormous potential to change life chances through IDEA”
Mark Mon-Williams, Director of the Centre for Applied Education Research, presented an overview of the IDEA Centre. Mark described the disparities that exist across Bradford – that children in more disadvantaged areas have 10 years less of life expectancy and are predicted to have 20 less years of healthy life. Furthermore, the inequalities and disadvantages are getting worse in every domain. Thus, the consequences of not acting now and not coming together to make change will literally “cost lives.” Mark explained the IDEA Centre will rely on everyone in the community of practice to bring their skills together to effectively tackle these problems.
Nick Malleson, Professor of urban analytics at the University of Leeds gave specific examples of how Connected Bradford data are being used. Linked health and education data show that children in less affluent areas are much less likely to attend a good school and receive an offer to attend their preferred school choice and experience health barriers to education. Researchers have started to identify very early predictors of NEET (not in education, employment or training) and were able to determine what impact COVID had on different school demographies (in terms of staying open, transmission, etc). Through Connected Bradford, researchers have the ability to examine such issues– and much more.
Isabella Chu, Associate Director of the Data Core at Stanford University’s Center for Population Health Sciences (PHS), presented first on synthetic data usage. She talked about the history and details of the Center for PHS and their data ecosystem, which has been used by over 1600 researchers. She also described the potential of synthetic data and its advantages over real data.
Ayin Vala, Senior Data Engineer at Stanford’s Center for PHS explained the rationale for synthetic data, and described the extensive work being undertaken to determine the quality of synthetic data for usage. He gave an example of using synthetic data usage for predicting risk of stroke, showing that synthetic data and real data look very similar after analysis. Ayin concluded his presentation with a summary of the Stanford Center for PHS’ current and future work – and the plans for creating synthetic ‘digital twins’ of BiB and Connected Bradford.
Attendees voted for which topic they would like to see explored first through a Task and Finish group – the majority agreed upon mental health in young people. Delegates agreed we would meet again in 3 months’ time to discuss the progress made through the Task & Finish Group on mental health in young people and further consider how we can save lives through data science.
For more information on the IDEA Centre Launch, to be part of the task and finish group and/or become involved in the future work of the Centre), please email: [email protected]