Open Data & Social Prescribing
London Sport is now the largest publisher of physical activity data for social prescribers in the UK.
London Sport have been interested in learning how open data and local physical activity opportunities can be put to best use within referral settings to support the achievement of a range of health and wellbeing outcomes. Over the last few years, London Sport, in partnership with a range of organisations, have been leading the way in delivering a number of projects across the health, social prescribing and open data space.
What is open data and OpenActive?
Open data is data that is available for anyone to access, use, and share. OpenActive is the open data standard for the sport and physical activity sector.
We know that a lack of access to high-quality open data in the sport and physical activity sector is a barrier to getting people active, and OpenActive helps to address this. OpenActive helps to tackle the problem of inactivity by helping sport and physical activity providers publish standardised open data on physical activity making it easier for people to find and book these opportunities online.
To find out more information about open data, OpenActive and Open Sessions, please click below to check out the resources we’ve created.Click Here
2020/21: Using physical activity open data in referral settings
In 2021, London Sport delivered a project exploring how local referral agencies* can use open data** to make it easier for their service users and link workers, or other health and social care professionals or volunteers, to find a local physical activity or sport session that is right for them.
The project, funded by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and Sport England, sought to identify the needs of service users, referral agencies and local physical activity providers, in respect to the effective inclusion of physical activity within referral pathways.
To do this, London Sport funded five digital platform providers to test and develop their solutions with link workers.
Watch below an introductory webinar for organisations that had expressed an interest in the project. This webinar provides an overview of the project, along with presentations from the ODI on OpenActive, and imin on their services.
Watch below a webinar specifically aimed at tech systems that had expressed an interest in being involved in the project. This webinar provides an overview of the work performed in phase 1 and phase 2 of the project, plus explains the next steps for those systems looking to submit a proposal for funding.
* Referral agencies are organisations that engage with people in their local community and provide advice and guidance and connect them to opportunities that would benefit their health and wellbeing. These include Social Prescription and other health and wellbeing or community support services e.g., Health Hubs and Long-Term Condition Pathway services including Diabetes, Mental Health and Obesity.
** In the context of this project, open data refers to information about physical activity opportunities that are made publicly accessible. To understand more about ‘open data’ in the context of sport and physical activity please click here.
London Sport’s hypothesis was that utilising open data to provide a live feed of relevant physical activity opportunities, which can be easily filtered by a link worker or service user, will increase the quality and quantity of physical activity referral.
The general conclusion on whether an open data powered solution makes it easier for link workers and/or service users to find a suitable activity session was positive.
However, due to restrictions and the knock-on effect of covid-19, it was not possible to test whether an open data-powered solution does lead to more service users taking up physical activity opportunities.
The webinar below shares our methodology, key findings, recommendations, and next steps following the publication of our full report into our research into using physical activity open data in referrals settings.
- An interim report as of February 2021, including the research conducted with link workers to understand the experience of supporting service users into physical activity sessions, plus the unmet needs that arose and examples of potential solutions which were created.
- Learn more about our methodology, key findings and recommendations and next steps in our full report into our work using physical activity open data in referrals settings.
- This is the summary of research into nine different referral services in London. The findings in this blueprint are an amalgamation of processes that can happen within the referrals process, but not a representation of how all services work.
- A number of key insights were raised during the three workshops held with link workers, which were grouped into 11 unmet needs. These 11 areas of unmet need raise potentially relevant issues for activity providers, service commissioners and planners, as well as those working in social prescribing or other referral schemes.
- Playwaze set out to look at how they could help bring the experience of a physical activity session alive for link workers and service users. The idea behind this was that the viewing of a video will help bring the experience of physical activity sessions to life for link workers and/or service users. To do this, they worked on making it easy for physical activity
providers to create a taster video, which could be uploaded into an open data feed.
- Health Place set out to look at several different developments, using open data, which could make it easier for link workers to refer a service user to a physical activity session which is relevant to their needs. The developments Health Place worked on were:
- Developing a quiz which can help link workers match the needs of their service users to the key characteristics of the local opportunities available
- Designing a conversational support system using artificial intelligence technology
- Elemental set out to look at several different developments, using open data, which could make it easier for link workers to refer a service user to a physical activity session which is relevant to their needs.
- OpenActive integration
- Filtering activities
- Digital Coproduction set out to look at several different developments, using open data, which could make it easier for link workers to refer a service user to a physical activity session which is relevant to their needs.
- OpenActive integration
- Filtering activities
- Personalised printing
- Healum looked at several developments, using open data, which could make it easier for link workers to refer a service user to a physical activity session relevant to their needs including:
- Traffic light system to show updated sessions
- Integration with Google Maps
- Creation of hard copies of information.
Based on the learnings generated through the project, various recommendations were made which can be found on pages 33/34 in the final report.
London Sport took these findings, and this promising area of work forward, to the project advisory group on 14th June 2021. It was agreed that London Sport would convene further workshops with key stakeholders from the physical activity, community and health sectors to consider these recommendations and identify appropriate next steps.
Over a period of time, these stakeholders made progress against several of the recommendations, which led to the open data and social prescribing project (2023/24) outlined below.
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