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GSS > Events > GSS Conference 2017

GSS Conference 2017

From 22nd November 2017 10:00am to 3rd November 2017 1:30pm
Sheffield United Football Club, Bramall Lane , Sheffield, S2 4SU

GSS Conference 2017

Pioneers: on the forefront of Statistics and Data Science
22nd – 23rd November
Sheffield United Football Club at Bramall Lane, Sheffield, S2 4SU

This year’s GSS conference will take place on 22nd and 23rd November 2017. This is an exciting opportunity to meet with other Government statisticians working across organisations and disciplines to share ideas and examples of best practise.

John Pullinger, National Statistician, who spoke at the 2016 conference says: “This year’s conference is an excellent opportunity for colleagues across government to network, share knowledge and to learn from other experts across the statistics community. It is a chance for us to showcase how innovative we are in the GSS. I would encourage you to consider attending.”


The Conference took place at Sheffield United Football Club at Bramall Lane, Sheffield S2 4SU from 22nd November to 23rd November 2017 .

Delegate Handbook and Agenda

Conference presentations

We had a number of exciting keynote speakers, including:

  • John Pullinger – National Statistician
  • Tom Smith – Managing Director of ONS Data Science Campus
  • Maria Fasli – Director, Institute for Analytics and Data Science, University of Essex and UNESCO Chair in Analytics and Data Science
  • Daniel Hulme – Founder and CEO of Satalia. Researcher and teacher in Information Security, Technology Entrepreneurship and  Information Studies at UCL. Visiting Fellow of the Big Innovation Centre
  • Tracey Brown – Director of Sense about Science
  • Tim Leunig – Chief Scientific Advisor at DfE
  • Sarah Henry – Director of Methods, Data and Research at ONS

A biography of each of the speakers can be found here.

We also ran a range of fascinating smaller sessions covering:

  • Big, real world issues, such as the Grenfell fire, Brexit, and the provision of education in the third world
  • Data science, how it can be used to open up admin data sources to answer specific questions, and how it can be implemented as a department-wide approach to problem solving
  • The nuts and bolts of the GSS, such as the review of the code of practice, and balancing innovation with data ethics and quality assurance.

Individual parallel presentations are available in the tabs below.


1.1 Reproducible analytical pipelines – Matthew Upson – GDS

1.2 Development of a Data Science Lab to save £1 billion – 3 years in – Nadine Morrisroe (NHS BSA)

Fraud and error measurement: Adapting to a changing benefit landscape – Jennifer Snape (DWP/OME)

1.3 Understanding the potential – creating a cross-GSS data family: In a huge statistical system how can we solve the problem of finding the right data first time? – Darren Barnes (ONS) and Sam Hall (ONS)

Making health and care statistics accessible – Helen Colvin (ONS)

1.4 Data driven school places, Uganda, & R Shiny – Sam Cuthbertson (DFE)

1.5 How to build data science capability and not go mad in the process – Tom Ewing (DFT)

Data science at MoJ – Jon Roberts (MoJ)

3.1 Statistical modelling of arrears history data for decision support in Social Housing Management – Farida Mustafazade (Newcastle University)

Race Disparity Audit: Building a data website and collaborating across Government – Zamila Bunglawala (Cabinet Office)

3.2 Quota sampling guidance – Gary Brown (ONS) and Catherine Mottram (DfT)

Quality Assurance of Administrative Data (QAAD): The population statistics perspective – Philip Humby (ONS)

3.3 The ‘Data’ Science of Where – the role of Geospatial analysis in Data Science and Statistics – Steve Croney (ESRI)

Disaggregating statistics using spatial techniques – Chris Gale (ONS)

3.4 DCLG’s analytical work in the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire – Sandra Tudor (DCLG)

3.5 Data ethics for statistics and research – Petros Saravakos (UKSA)

Better Scraping, Better Statistics? Using web-scraped data in statistical outputs – Matthew Greenaway (ONS)

4.1 Improving data communication, 90+ tables to an API – Hiren Bhimjiyani (BEIS)

The use of Data Science to improve the way we process and disseminate data – Tom Davies and Mark Burley (DWP)

4.2 The Dissemination Game: How to communicate official statistics to non expert users – Hannah Thomas (Welsh Government)

Understanding crime in prisons: the problem – Jack Tattersall (MoJ)

4.3 Cracking address matching: Why it matters & why it’s not easy – Alistair Calder (ONS)

Use of the VAT data within ONS, in collaboration with the ONS Data Science Campus – Andrew Sutton (ONS)

4.4 Global GSS: International priorities, preparing for Brexit, and International Development – Emily Poskett (ONS),
Robert Bumpstead (UKSA), Will Laffan (UKSA) and Ian Cope (ONS)

4.5 Discover how design of local policy is elevated by engaging data analysis: a LEP perspective – Lisa Clark (Sheffield City
Region Executive Team)

Why should we have a ‘place-based’ industrial strategy anyway? – Paul Swinney (Centre for Cities)


Meet the organising committee

The organising committee is made up of volunteers from across government, you can find out a little more about everyone here.

Name: Sarah Murphy
Role on Committee: Venue and operations
Organisation: Ministry of Defence
Location: Portsmouth
Interesting fact: I’ve abseiled down Table Mountain, South Africa.
Favourite film: The Imitation Game
Favourite pastimes: Travelling, pub quizzes and reading. One word to summarise your aim for the conference: Collaborative


Name: Richmond Davies
Role on committee: Venue and operations
Organisation: Information Services Division of NHS Scotland
Location: Edinburgh
Interesting fact: I once met Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting, in a chip shop in Edinburgh
Favourite film: Pulp Fiction
Favourite pastimes: Reading, data science meetups, and fitness training
One word to summarise your aim of the conference: Illuminate


Name: Katy Morgan
Organisation: HMRC
Role on Committee: Venue and operations
Location: London
One word to summarise your aim for the conference: Successful


Name: Sophie Stewart
Organisation: Department for Education
Location: Sheffield
Role on committee: Project management and finance chair
One word: Well-managed!
Interesting fact: I was once backstage security for Take That.
Claim to fame: Occasionally I can be seen on the TV behind John Parrott and Steve Davis at the snooker.
Pastimes: Losing spectacularly and on a regular basis with my team in the Sheffield netball leagues, apparently.


Name: Alix Crabtree
Role on Committee: Project Management and Finance
Organisation: HM Revenue and Customs
Location: Liverpool
Aim for the committee: Impactful
Favourite TV show: Love Island (trashy TV at it’s best!)
Interesting fact: To curb my love of food, I torture myself twice a week by going to bootcamp.


 Name: Juwaria Rahman
Role: Finance and Project Management committee member
Organisation: Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS)
Location: London
Pastimes: Being a taxi driver to my children!
Favourite book: Toro! Toro!
Favourite TV show: The Mysterious Cities of Gold
One word: Useful


Name: Ralph McDevitt
Role on Committee: Communications
Organisation: Ofsted
Location: London
Interesting fact: I once travelled 500 miles with The Proclaimers. (Well actually it wasn’t that far, they gave me a lift to T in the park from Edinburgh.)
Favourite sports team: Arsenal
Favourite film: The Big Lebowski
Favourite TV shows: Spaced and Dr Who
One word to summarise your aim for the conference: Fascinating


Name: Clare Betts
Organisation: Ministry of Defence
Location: High Wycombe
Role on the committee: Communications
One word to describe your aim for the conference: Inspirational
Favourite TV show: Gardeners World
Hobbies: sewing, baking and occasionally running to offset the baked goods!


Name: Stefanie Taylor
Role on Committee: Communications
Organisation: Qualifications Wales
Location: Cardiff
Pastimes: Running, currently training for a half marathon
One word to summarise your aim for the conference: Engaging


Name: Sean Mattson
Role: Parallel sessions
Organisation: BEIS
Location: London
Aim for the conference: Provocative
Favourite book: The Brothers Karamazov
Favourite sporting moment: Watching Leicester City win the Premiership eight years after watching them get relegated to League 1.
Hobbies: Reading, squash, music


Name: Michael Cole
Role on Committee: Parallel session stream
Organisation: DWP
Location: Newcastle
Pastimes: Entertaining my 4 year old little girl and 2 year little boy.
Favourite TV show: Sopranos
One word to summarise your aim for the conference: Pioneering


Name: Ian Hillis
Organisation: Insolvency Service
Location: Victoria, London
Role on the committee: Sponsorship Workstream
Current Aims in my work on committee: Provide a long and viable list of potential clients for a sponsorship deal (all assistance with contact details for companies/organisations that might provide sponsorship gratefully received – e.g. non-controversial media, etc.)
Pastimes: Exercise and Gilbert & Sullivan
Favourite TV show: Game of Thrones
Little known fact: I support Nottingham Forest
One word to summarise your aim for the conference: Informative


Name: Duncan Cook
Role on Committee: Sponsorship
Organisation: Department for Communities and Local Government
Location: London
Personal mantra: Less haters more datas
Little known fact: I can nail a backbend
One word to summarise your aim for the conference: Statsy

Name: Pennie Vargas

Organisation: HMRC

Location: London

Role on the committee: Plenary Speakers

Aim for the committee: Inspiring

Interesting fact: I have completed the Disney Dopey Challenge, running 48.6 miles over four days, ending with a marathon.

Little known fact: I used to ride a tricycle to university


Frequently Asked Questions

When is the conference?

The conference is taking place on the 22nd and 23rd November 2017.

        Is there an agenda available?

An agenda is being finalised and will be circulated shortly.

 What time does the conference start and finish?

As a guide to general timings day 1 will run from 10am-5:30pm with dinner served at 7:30pm. Day 2 will run from 9am-1:30pm.

How do I apply for a place?

Your Head of Profession has been informed of the number of places available for your home Department, and will be emailing around for expressions of interest. Applications are only done through your Head of Profession.

 How do I register?

Once conference allocations have been confirmed, registration will open online. We will update the conference website when registrations open, so make sure to check back to keep updated!