Arthur Turrell is Deputy Director of the Data Science Campus at the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS). Following studies in physics and mathematics, Arthur obtained his PhD in plasma physics from Imperial College London. He retains a keen interest in physics and has written a popular science book about nuclear fusion titled ‘The Star Builders’. He began his career in the public sector as a research economist in the Bank of England’s data science team where he led projects combining economics and data science. While at the Bank, he chose mathematical elements of Alan Turing’s work to feature on the UK’s £50 note and published research on labour markets, real-time data, natural language processing, forecasting, and macroeconomic modelling. He is also the author of several open source software packages and the open source online training book ‘Coding for Economists’. In 2021, he moved to the Data Science Campus, the UK public sector’s centre of excellence in data science.
In this talk, I will take you on a rollercoaster tour of how data science is delivering for the public good at the Office for National Statistics’ Data Science Campus and beyond. Drawing on examples from the dozens of data scientists working at the Campus, you’ll find out how Python is improving the public sector already in a myriad of ways, from creating or improving national statistics, to forecasting the economy, to dealing with Covid-19, to evaluating efforts to tackle the gender pay gap. We’ll even see how a tweet by a food campaigner led to a huge effort to web-scrape budget brand offerings in UK supermarkets—analysis that made it onto every major UK news programme! And we’ll look ahead to the challenges, and potential, of Python for the public sector in the future.