The 4th International Conference on Administrative Data Research brought together over 350 delegates from the UK and across the globe.
The main theme of this year’s Conference, hosted by Administrative Data Research Wales, was ‘Public Data for Public Good’ – exploring how public data can be used to develop evidence-based policies and practices.
The Conference which was held in Cardiff from the 9th – 11th December, focused on national and international population data science initiatives. The programme included: applied research; case studies and concepts; ethical, legal and social issues, evidence to inform policy and practice; and methodological advances.
Huge potential of public sector data
Administrative data, which is anonymised data collected from public sector such as social security; NHS; national census; births, marriages and deaths; electoral register; tax; court and education records – has huge potential to provide new rich insights into our society.
Thought provoking talks
Over the 3 days of the conference keynote speakers and presenters delivered thought-provoking talks in their areas of expertise.
Karen Carter, Statistics Specialist (Administrative Data) at UNICEF, who presented at the conference reflected:
” The conference has been a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of administrative data and the work that is being done around the expanding use of administrative data in addressing critical development issues – not just in the UK and Europe – but in the broader global context, amongst a network of professionals and academics that have the skills and experience to really help shape this field in a positive way as we move forward.
UNICEF is committed to supporting both our country offices and member states to use data to drive results for children. Being able to connect with this network and hear feedback to some of the ideas that we have shared – around gender statistics, but also other areas such as the use of administrative data in humanitarian contexts and our work to develop a cross-sectoral administrative data maturity model, is a great way for us to continue to strengthen and challenge our existing approaches. We hope to continue to build out our network and connect with experts in administrative data systems, quality, linkage and use who are able to work with us and contribute to the various discussions on how we make admin data work more effectively for children.”
Michael Fleming from the University of Glasgow won ‘Best Paper Award’ at the conference for his research on ‘Education and health outcomes of children treated for chronic conditions’. Michael presented his study, which linked Scotland-wide education data to national health data, between 2009 and 2013, to explore associations between childhood chronic conditions and educational and health outcomes.
Michael commented on his research and presentation: “Whilst the detrimental health effects of having a chronic condition are felt over the course of a lifetime, the detrimental impact on educational outcomes are likely to also have long-term sequelae for the child; including being an additional risk factor for adverse outcomes in adulthood due to lower-income, poorer working conditions, poorer living conditions and decreased access to healthcare and leisure. It is therefore imperative that all children, regardless of their background or circumstances, receive the best standard of education possible and have equal opportunity to be able to perform well at school.
All children are different; therefore, policies are required to ensure that school services and resources are tailored to individual pupil needs.
We feel that our findings are generalizable to other countries. Attending conferences such as this are of great benefit because they are attended by a wide range of experts from academic, health, educational and other governmental sectors. Therefore, I feel that this is an ideal forum in which to share ideas and findings, make connections, and engage in valuable discussion, to hopefully enable research findings to truly influence policy and change practice.”
Tony Whiffen & Laura Herbert from ADR Wales based in Swansea University presented their recent research on ‘The Welsh Government Flying Start Data Linking Project’.
Flying Start is the Welsh Government’s flagship Early Years programme for families with children aged less than 4 years of age. During their session, Tony and Laura discussed the aim of their project -which is to link individual-level Flying Start intervention data with health, education and other data to investigate the potential impact of Flying Start. The team’s findings will feed into the current evidence base for Flying Start and help to inform future policy-making.
Tony Commented: “Our work demonstrates how administrative data can be used to assess the delivery of a government initiative with an approach that can be applied for other client-based programmes. The ADR conference enables us to see our findings in the wider research context and how they contribute to the development of administrative data approaches in the UK.”
Public Data for Public Good
In her opening address at the conference, Rebecca Evans AM, said: “I am delighted that this conference is taking place in Wales. We are passionate about making the best use of the data we hold, and it is an area where we are proud to have shown real leadership for many years.
The theme of this conference, Public Data for Public Good, is one I wholeheartedly support, as does the Welsh Government. I am also proud that, here in Wales, through Swansea University’s world-leading SAIL Databank, we have a secure way of linking together different datasets so that researchers can access much richer data than ever before.”
Kerina Jones, Professor of Population Data Science at Swansea University, Wales, and Chair of the Conference Scientific Committee commented: “The conference has been a resounding success. Administrative data has enormous potential to evaluate programmes and interventions but the use of this data is still in its infancy and has considerable challenges to overcome.
This event has brought together experts from across the world to share their research and best practice, and to open up new opportunities for knowledge sharing and collaboration as we work towards the common goal of enabling greater use of administrative data for public good.”