We’ve blogged before about how Digital by Design fits with the Mayor and Combined Authority’s drive to make Greater Manchester (GM) a top global digital city.

By working with local communities on the ground; at Stockport level with the NHS, business and other partners; and at city level on growth, devolution and other big issues, we can create powerful feedback loops to build test and learn about new forms of governance and new public service models.

We also have a great canvass of public, private, VCSE, education and skills sectors across which to collaborate.  We can work at the scale of three million people, but stay focussed on Greater Manchester as a place (and a conurbation of places).

It was in this mind that – under the banner of GM Digital – colleagues from Councils, NHS, GMCA and Manchester University held the second GM Analysts meet-up last week.

Learn to love your analysts

The premise is simple – public sector analysts are a scarce and hugely important resource.  Let’s invest in networking and developing our people, and listen to them as leaders in their field, with a responsibility to craft a future profession that supports our shared ambitions for GM.

Anyone who knows public services will know that, as a result of legacy tech, austerity cuts and a heavy statutory reporting overhead, we’re data rich but insight poor.

It would be understandable if the meet-up felt like one big moanathon.

But the energy in the room was all positive.  We’ve had brilliant feedback about how inspiring it was:

  • to hear and welcome the challenge to step-up for GM and play a part in devolution
  • to understand what others are working on, and the tools they’re working with
  • to contribute to whole-system strategies to improve analytics
  • to take practical steps to start upskilling and sharing all the knowledge and experience in the room

Practical peer support

Within the few hours we were together we saw the birth of a new hashtag and Twitter account to provide a focal point for the network.

Inspired by Jamie Whyte’s take on the power and potential of civic analytics and open data, we also extracted commitments to start user groups on r, Tableau and Visual Basic for Applications.

You can see what others in the room thought, and please help us spread the word to people who couldn’t make it on the day.

We agreed on a third meet-up before Christmas, which I think justifies the group dissolving into post-meet-up drinks.

If you have a central Manchester room that could host us then do get in touch!