Holme Wood in south-east Bradford is one of the most deprived housing estates in the UK. Historically, initiatives aimed at improving people’s lives there or in other deprived areas of Bradford were typically ‘top-down’ national policies, applied locally. However, these have had limited success: blanket policies are unlikely to be equally effective in every area they are applied to, even within the same city.
A collaboration between the Turing and Leeds Institute for Data Analytics is using data science to better understand deprivation in Holme Wood and to generate tailor-made policies. The researchers, led by Turing Fellow Mark Mon-Williams, have developed a two-pronged approach. First, they build statistical models that pull in data on residents’ education, social care, employment, housing and transport access, as well as data from the world-leading Born in Bradford study, which is tracking the health of over 13,500 children born in the city between 2007 and 2010. Second, the team presents the findings of these models to Holme Wood residents, putting them at the centre of discussions about potential solutions.
One of the team’s models, for example, analyses access to food outlets in the estate, showing that while there are plenty of fast food outlets, it is difficult to access healthy, affordable food. Residents are now in direct conversations with local service providers about how fresh food could be more easily distributed to the community, such as via food banks at schools.
The team has started to expand its methodology to other deprived areas of Bradford, and has interest from central government in expanding it nationally.
“This project is combining data science and lived experience to understand the challenges and opportunities faced by those living in some of Bradford’s most deprived places. I am now using the team’s methodology to help improve support to children with neurodiverse conditions, and their families.”
Ava Green, Associate Director for Autism, Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust
Using data science to generate better policies to improve people’s lives in Holme Wood and beyond
This piece first appeared in The Alan Turing Institute’s Annual Report 2021-22
Top image: Neil Mitchell / Shutterstock