VCS and Council Data Exchange


  1. Project outputs
  2. Project timeline

Led by Central Bedfordshire Council and the London Borough of Camden, with support from LOTI, the project have used their funding to discover, prototype and test a solution to data exchange that is reliable, scalable and reusable.

A User Guide was developed in the first phase of the Community Insight Project undertaken by Camden, Central Bedfordshire and LOTI. Subsequently, the Local Digital Collaboration Unit (LDCU) funded Central Bedfordshire Council and Camden Council for a second phase of this work. Both councils are testing the methodology set out in the User Guide to deliver data products.

The project has followed Agile delivery principles, working in the open where possible. The project has hosted fortnightly Show & Tells to update on their progress and share findings. You can view the Show and Tell slides on the LOTI website.

As part of the second phase of funding, the Camden team led user research with VCS organisations, and produced clickable, user interface designs for new ways of collaborating around data with the VCS, including a new data service called ‘Find Camden Data For Funding’.

Project outputs

These documents are working drafts and will be iterated as Central Bedfordshire and Camden Councils take forward Community Insights Projects. LOTI welcomes feedback from any council or VCS organisation though comments made directly to the documents or by contacting the project.

  • User Guide: this User Guide sets out how to create and run a Community Insights Project (Google Doc) (PDF).
  • Report: Data Exchange with the VCS Report (slides) (PDF)

Project timeline

August 2020

The VCS and Council Data Exchange project receives £80,000 from the Local Digital C-19 Challenge.

February 2021

The project receives £150,000 of follow-on funding from the Local Digital Fund to continue their work.

During the next phase, the project will move from theory to practice. Two exemplar projects will take place to adopt and test the method outlined in the user guide:

  • A project led by Central Bedfordshire Council will focus on a use case around the availability of information provided by the council and Citizens Advice
  • A project led by London Borough of Camden will focus on a use case on emergency food deliveries

The project also hopes to uncover common lessons to inform the creation of a new public data store – one that brings in data from, and makes data available to, the VCS sector and local public service organisations.

This project aimed to improve information flows between councils and Voluntary Community Services (VCS), to enable them to better support vulnerable residents and communities in the wake of COVID-19.

September 2021

The project team published a guest blog post on our medium channel. You can get involved with their work, and join in the conversation.

October 2021

Since the last sprint the project has drafted their User Research output document, which pulls together the outcomes of multiple one-hour interviews and team analysis workshops.

They also attended the Camden Food Mission to hear about current developments on Camden’s strategy and direction planning.

Lastly, they held a planning session and product session to agree their upcoming priorities and set the direction and timelines for upcoming priority areas.

November 2021

This sprint, the Camden team has:

  • welcomed Vanessa Deliyanni to the team, who will be working to develop UX elements of the project
  • developed an initial list of data that relates to the Food Mission
  • moved the project to JIRA, which is a tool used across Camden

They also began developing user experience wireframes for the Camden Insights Plus and Camden Food Mission Data Hub products on their Miro board.

The Camden team will soon be joined by a new member who will be responsible for User Experience Design and Delivery Management.

They will be tasked with building the user experience design of two products (Camden Insights Plus and Camden Food Mission Data Hub).

The Bedfordshire team is working on a strategic plan which will be launched next year and will focus on the key principle of ‘fairness’.

They have identified two workstreams:

  • a low-income dashboard
  • pathways that residents take when accessing advice

The team will now draft a business case so they can identify the resources required.

December 2021

February 2022

March 2022

The project has just completed its eighth sprint, during which the team has:

  • completed a clickable prototype of the Camden Insights website, with a design that is refocused on the user needs of those who are less data-literate
  • conducted user research sessions with six out of the eight participants, to test the new clickable prototype and gather feedback using the user experience (UX) storyboards created
  • developed UX storyboards for the Food Mission Data Hub
  • continued work on the discussion guide and final project report

In March the Camden team presented its end-of-phase Show and Tell, during which they provided an overview of their work so far and outlined their next steps. View the Show and Tell slides (opens in Google Slides).

The team from Camden also met to discuss their proposed impact measurement and has provided us with their draft end-of-phase report.

May 2022

The Camden team presented their final Show and Tell for this phase. View the Show and Tell slides or watch the video recording.

The team also produced their end of phase report.

June 2023

The VCS and Council Data Exchange project was temporarily paused from May 2022 to June 2023, but it has now resumed at Central Bedfordshire. The goal is to complete the project within the net 6-9 months, as part of their work on ‘fairness’.