The past 6 months have flown by and my time at Connected by Data has come to an end. I’d like to use this opportunity to thank the team: Tim, Maria, Jonathan, Jeni, Adam and Emily for supporting me during this time and really making this an exciting and valuable place to work. This has been a wonderful opportunity where I’ve been able to learn a lot more about community empowerment in conversations about data.
One of the biggest tasks I have been involved in working on this year is our project with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, in exploring the ecosystem of organisations working to reduce poverty and social inequality with the aim to develop an insight infrastructure to support their work. One of my favourite parts of this project was being able to interact with such a wide range of organisations and stakeholders, and having a deeper understanding of the variety of issues being addressed in this space. From charities that work specifically with young parents, to think-tanks that are solely concerned about access to good food and nutrition and private companies that make transferring private data easier for people trying to access social services. Hearing about the work that they do and how data impacts many different aspects of their work was very interesting and will be something I will always consider in future endeavours. What was particularly interesting to me was the issue of balancing data being collected for service provision and evaluation purposes versus data being collected for campaigning and funding purposes. It highlighted to me how many organisations that work to reduce or eliminate poverty and social inequality, are sometimes put in an awkward position as they sometimes have to require on outside sources in order to provide their services, and this sometimes has adverse effects on the way that they collect data and the types of data they collect. Another big takeaway from my work with this project, which I’ve talked about before, was really recognising the importance of consulting all stakeholders, especially making an effort to engage with those who have lived experience of poverty and social exclusion. Our session with the Grassroots Poverty Action Group was extremely rewarding and useful, as they provided unique insights and emphasised the importance of including the perspectives of lived experience groups at all stages. Finally, it has been really rewarding to see the project evolve and adapt as time has gone on - being really responsive to the needs of the community and ensuring that our engagement is having a real impact on the development of the project.
Another big achievement I have made during my time here has been the progress we have made on addressing participatory practices and their role in artificial intelligence. When I originally joined Connected by Data, it was made clear that we were working specifically on issues around data and this was meant to be distinct from issues around artificial intelligence. Through some casual discussion during our research team meetings, we were able to discuss and reconsider our approach to issues around artificial intelligence from the Connected by Data perspective. As a result, Maria and I have discussed and developed a series of blog posts exploring the relationship between artificial intelligence and participatory methods, which should be coming out soon… I believe these blog posts are a testament to the extent to which Connected by Data has given me the freedom to explore areas that I am interested in.
A big part of my experience at Connected by Data has been supported by my involvement in conferences and talks outside of work. I had the pleasure of attending UKGovCamp23, the Gloucestershire Data Day and attended a session at MozFest online. These events really allowed me to expand my knowledge of data justice, social data and community-building.
Overall, I really have had a wonderful time at Connected by Data. For it being my first ‘real’ job after university, I’ve learned a lot about the industry but also a lot about myself and how I work best. Thank you to the wider team for supporting me and providing me with room to grow and experiment!