Academics from the University of Essex are using their research expertise to help improve public services in the county.
As the newly-appointed Chief Scientific Adviser for Essex, Professor Slava Mikhaylov has been tasked with building on existing links between the University and Essex County Council to ensure both organisations, and the wider community, benefit.
His role, which will concentrate on linking the Council with the University’s internationally-recognised expertise in big data and advanced analytics, is thought to be the first of its kind in the country.
Faced with decreasing budgets but increased demand for services, the Council wants to improve the delivery and targeting of services to make sure money is spent where it is needed most.
Although it has access to masses of information about the county and its people, it is only of any use if the various data sets are linked and used appropriately.
That’s where the University comes in, as Professor Mikhaylov explained: “At Essex we are at the cutting edge of research and latest thinking which could help the Council with the challenges it faces. My job is to link the research being carried out here to real issues faced by the Council.
“Both sides benefit. The University gets more information to strengthen its research, and the Council gets valuable insights which bring practical benefits to service delivery.”
Cllr Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader of Essex County Council and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, Skills, Infrastructure and the Digital Economy, said: “We are constantly striving to think smarter and be more creative in our approaches to delivering public services.
“The appointment of a shared Chief Scientific Adviser embedded within a local authority is a novel approach. This will support the use of data, information and research to develop innovative approaches, ensuring both organisations and the wider community mutually benefit. We are excited to be working with Professor Mikhaylov.”
Professor Mikhaylov joined Essex from University College London, where he was a senior lecturer in political science. At Essex he is based at the Institute or Analytics and Data Science – part of the Knowledge Gateway, the University’s research and technology park.
“Data analytics is a real area of strength at the University and we can use it to drive innovation, which is something the Council is very keen on,” he added.