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How to make using ambulance data EASIER


Engage with the data holder. Make it clear why you are accessing the data and what the benefits are. Engagement has to come from all levels, but the 'way in' may be through discussions between analysts in police and ambulance services. Use 'champions' within the agencies to maintain engagement. The champions will keep partners focused on the core purpose of the data collection, which will help all parties continue to see its value. Data sharing is based on trust. There is no automatic 'right' to access data even if it is held by a public body or a similar organisation.


Make it clear what data you would like to access and why, and set this out in a data sharing agreement between the parties. Ambulance services will likely vary in how risk-averse they are, which may impact upon the terms they wish to set.


Secure any shared data in accordance with the terms agreed to in the data sharing agreement. If the right precautions are in place and adhered to, the data sharing should not raise any concerns.


Ambulance data can inform and support trend analysis, and offer a contrast to police data. To maximise benefits, establish clear pathways for ambulance data to be used by analysts in routine work. This includes having the appropriate personnel and information technology resources available. The data must not be used for the purposes of detection.


The usefulness and effectiveness of ambulance data for police interventions may vary considerably. Conduct rigorous evaluations to ensure that police resources are being spent on tactics that are evidence based and cost effective. Include learning in future activities.


Keep organisations up to date with what you are using the data for and what has been achieved so far. This will help with engagement and demonstrate the value of continued data sharing. Note: this communication does not have to be limited to analysts/managers -- dispatchers might also want to hear about your work and could have useful insights to add.

For more information, contact Alex Sutherland, Research Leader (

Adapted from Using ambulance data to inform violence prevention: A guide for police, public health and violence prevention partnerships by Alex Sutherland, Lucy Strang, Martin Stepanek and Chris Giacomantonio, RR-2253-WMP, 2017, available at RAND Europe is a not-for-profit research organisation that helps to improve policy and decision making through research and analysis.

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