Open source can strengthen decision making

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In a recent, blog post by Robin Linacre, part of the digital team of Ministry of Justice (MoJ) shared that they have been able to develop an analytical platform on Amazon Web Services and the open source Kubernetes system. The project had been going on for 18 months.

“It’s a great time to be an analyst at the Ministry of Justice. Our new Analytical Platform is giving our analysts access to cutting edge open source tools, improving our ability to use data and evidence to drive decision making,” wrote Robin Linacre.

The platform is aimed to give the ministry’s analysts access to tools that have historically not been available to government bodies. It creates a virtual infrastructure to support secure environments running analytical software such as R Studio and Jupyter Lab.

“The ambition is to empower our analysts to be the best they can be, by giving them access to tools which they regard as the best available,” he further wrote in the blog.

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In building the Analytical Platform the team conducted user research with MoJ analysts for the first time. To meet their needs the new open source tools are made available on the platform. “We’re also taking our first steps in contributing to the open source community with the MoJ Analytical Services GitHub organisation,” the blog said.

One of the tools developed on the platform uses machine learning to analyse the free text in parliamentary questions and their responses. Another has produced statistics from the MoJ for use by the office of National Statistics.

Further, the ministry’s data scientists have produced a number of interactive data visualisations for internal use, including real time models to help it understand how new policies can affect people’s access to justice.

The blog further emphasised that they want to provide analysts with powerful tools that make it easier to tackle the most thorny analytical problems and reduce the complexity of some of the important but time consuming aspects of their jobs.

With the aim of making its regular business activities easier, they are planning to increase internal access to the platform.

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