For those of you who may not be familiar with this sort of thing, ‘sandpit’ events are forums where we can share some of our business challenges, experiences and ideas with some of the sharpest minds in academia. The University, in turn, can tell us about their experiences, not only in academic circles but also in the real world. The benefits of the ‘sandpits’ are many and varied. It brings opportunities for knowledge sharing and generating ideas. Perhaps most excitingly the events can identify areas where the University and DVLA can work together.
The first session
The first ‘sandpit’ provided a platform for professors, researchers, and other academic staff, to showcase what they’ve been doing, in a number of fields of interest, to DVLA. Their research into Human/Computer Interaction, aimed at producing more efficient and intuitive user interfaces and experiences, was of obvious interest to us. It was particularly timely given the advent of our very own User Experience laboratory at the Richard Ley Development Centre and our ongoing quest to deliver better services.
Other growing fields of interest are Big Data analytics (which allows organisations to analyse a mixture of structured/semi structured data) and Data Visualisation, and the University plays an active role in both – working with, amongst others, the Welsh Rugby Union to provide sophisticated player performance data. For me, a key takeaway from the session was the realisation that these techniques can reveal anomalies in large data sets traditional analytical methods might not detect. Investigating such hot spots can draw attention to previously unknown behaviours or events. Once corrected this may result in better quality data and, potentially, even service improvements.
The second session
Held the following week this was our chance to respond with some of the current challenges faced by DVLA. This included informal presentations from our Architecture Community (who plan and design our IT systems) on how we’re responding to our digital agenda. They explained how we’re modernising our internal IT by staying on top of external IT trends - not only with our online driver and vehicle services but also keeping our fingers on the pulse of the Twitter generation.
Our Customer Insight team will play an increasingly important role and gave a well received talk about their experience in this area. Keen interest was also sparked by a talk from our Data Sharing team - a subject we rightfully take seriously at DVLA - another area for continued discussions with Swansea University.
We intend to hold regular sandpits and will continue to have a broad cross section of business and IT colleagues in attendance.
Wherever you work - your interest, expertise and insight are essential for us to build on our growing relationship with our friendly neighbourhood University.
Watch this space!