Active Data: City Hall’s Sports Data Expedition 

05 December 2018

The Civil Society team hosted their first data expedition on 31 October. A data expedition brings together those that might hold data, policy makers and data scientists, to gain insight into a chosen topic or theme - in this case, exploring London sports data.

The aim was to highlight that civil society has significant potential to inform public policy through better use of their own and open data, sharing insight and building partnerships. The hope was that participants would develop new data skills, discover new insightful datasets and create data outputs including visualisations, data gaps and data needs. 

Prior to the expedition, the Civil Society team crowdsourced a question. Ten ideas were submitted, and over 350 votes cast. The following topics received the most votes:

  • Sports activity and social integration
  • Understanding inactivity 
  • Funding of sports activity

On the day 

Forty participants from various organisations and backgrounds took part, including local and national sports charities, funders, data analysts, universities and local government – all bringing a variety of skills. It soon became apparent that working with data, especially in a concentrated timeframe, must be an iterative process and re-framing the questions based on findings throughout the day is part of the process. 

Time was spent defining the core of the questions and finding relevant datasets. This was not without challenges; defining terms used, finding data that was useful and being able to locate it in an accessible format were some of the barriers the teams faced. 

Once data had been found it was a case of analysing it, summarising key findings and understanding how these responded to the questions in hand. It was often the case that the datasets and findings responded to only part of the question and so the caveats were put in place that further work was needed to respond fully to our research questions. 

We wrapped up the day with groups presenting their findings to the room.

What we learnt

Participants discovered new datasets, developed data skills and learnt how to use free online data tools. The day also highlighted the important role that non ‘data-specialists’ have in asking the right questions and understanding the patterns within real life contexts. 

Some interesting findings from the day: 

  • Three London boroughs (Wandsworth, Camden and Westminster) receive 45% of the total sports funding in London based on data shared on 360 Giving. 
  • Four London boroughs (Camden, Wandsworth, Southwark and Hackney) spend a significant amount more per 1,000 people on sport provision compared to the rest of the London.
  • Having a high number of sports facilities in a borough does not necessarily mean a borough’s population is more active. 
  • The most ethnically diverse smaller areas across London have a lower sports participation average (55%) than that of the boroughs in which they are situated (58%) and London as a whole (64%)

These are high level conclusions which need further unpicking and analysis to be truly useful insights to the sports sector, service providers and policy makers.

Next steps

These hypotheses will be shared with the Sport team to shape further research and policy in sports activity, provision and participation across London. 

If you are interested in taking part in the next steps with sports data or our next data expedition, please email [email protected] 

Read participants, Nicki Mallet and Frank Newton’s blog ‘A Data Expedition: How Data can be a Team Sport’, to read their take-aways from the day.

The day was hosted in partnership with 360Giving, Substance and Upshot,

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