CBS and Leidschendam-Voorburg team up in new UDC

/ Author: Miriam van der Sangen
Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and the municipality of Leidschendam-Voorburg have joined forces in a new CBS Urban Data Centre. The new UDC commingles CBS’ expertise, e.g. in the fields of data infrastructure, data processing and privacy protection, with the city’s ambition to support new municipal policies with data. On 31 August 2017, CBS Director General Tjark Tjin-A-Tsoi and alderman Ms. Lia de Ridder signed a collaboration agreement to this effect.

Key target groups

Alderman Lia de Ridder’s portfolio includes public services. ‘We want to continuously improve public services to our citizens and offer customised services wherever possible. CBS’ expertise is going to help us get there. By merging that with our own data and information, we hope to gain more insight into several target groups and develop a more focused approach in deciding where to put our efforts.’ One of the key target groups identified by the municipal government are the self-employed (in Dutch: zzp’ers). ‘We want to commit our support to this group, but we know little about them. CBS has already conducted surveys on this group, and the results will be presented during the UDC opening event. For example, which districts have a higher concentration of self-employed, how much do they earn, etcetera.’

Welfare claimants

Another important target group for the municipality aside from the self-employed are the recipients of social assistance benefits. The authorities wish to find out why re-integration projects to help people back into work are successful in some groups but not in others. De Ridder: ‘Data can help us gain insight into who and how many depend on social assistance, and can help us pursue a more targeted policy. In doing so, we hope to do a better job at coaching these people and getting them back into work faster, or helping them stay out of social welfare.’ Other topics high on the agenda to be addressed at the UDC once operational include youth care and youth unemployment. In addition, the municipality wants to learn more about the economic impact of cultural events on shops, hotels, bars and restaurants.

Economic and social policy

CBS policy researcher Lieke Stroucken has been a sparring partner for the municipality on behalf of CBS in the months leading up to the launch. She looks back on all the preparations: ‘Last April, we kicked off with a workshop that was attended by CBS representatives and municipal policy staff. We formed small teams and brainstormed about two separate themes: the economy and the social domain. The latter included topics such as care, welfare and youth care, very timely given the current decentralisation process in that domain.’

Active step

According to Stroucken, collaboration with the municipality has run smoothly. ‘We’ve worked closely together in establishing a comprehensive working plan. An attractive office space has been created for the Urban Data Centre, the first few meetings with the steering group have taken place, and the next few projects are due to start immediately following the launch. In short, the municipality has worked very thoroughly and energetically, right from the very first day of preparations.’