Delivering effective and resource-efficient local intelligence
Worcestershire County Council has used geographical information systems for about 20 years. The Council has had a web-based GIS presence since 2001. It became clear there was major opportunity to develop this further as a way to present the results of the 2001 census. After the council elections in 2005, the council wanted a simple way to give the new councillors better intelligence about the wards they served. The council’s Research and Intelligence Unit was tasked with bring together information from, various departments to generate electoral division profiles. The objective was to enable the council members to have access to a wide range of information about the area they represent to use in their role. The unit’s remit includes research advice, the provision of intelligence about residents’ views and clients’ needs and the management of performance linked to corporate and partnership strategies including community safety. The Unit also provides research and intelligence services related to population, housing, the economy and the environment and an informative service relating to economic matters: this work is fundamental to most strategic planning and economicregeneration activities.
The unit was introduced to Geowise and InstantAtlas through council partners who had used the software. David Onions, Corporate Business Intelligence and Performance Manager, says: “InstantAtlas was relatively cheap to purchase and gave us the ability to do what we wanted without having to involve specialist IT teams.” There were a couple of weeks of intensive work to load the relevant data but the bigger challenge came from managing the data from other sources.
Meeting the need
The Research Unit uses InstantAtlas to develop electoral profiles but these are also being linked to CRM and customer segmentation data. A good example of this was a project to link in customer service data in relation to highways. This makes it possible to profile the requests for services from the Highways department. InstantAtlas has also been used to present crime and housing data across the west Midlands. In addition the unit has worked with the Childrens Services team and the public health team to present useful intelligence that can be used for Joint Strategic Needs Assessment.
Making the project work
Having seen the benefits of InstantAtlas Desktop, the Research Unit decided to move to InstantAtlas Server. This means that rather than having to rely on partners for data feeds, the partners will be able to update the data themselves. This means that the unit has to put fewer resources into ensuring data is timely. With legacy systems in place, the project to link customer service data in relation to highways will needed a long-term and costly fix. However, InstantAtlas Server enabled this particular project to move ahead alongside any more involved system changes.
Other InstantAtlas local authority stories and reports that will interest you
Rochdale Borough Council - Empowering local communities to make better decisions
Cumbria Intelligence Observatory - Bringing consistency to statutory assessment through online data visualisation
Coventry City Council - ‘Developing a centralised information hub that gives LSP partners the intelligence they need’
Wolverhampton in Profile - How Wolverhampton’s Local Information System is driving consistency of data use and helping deliver evidence-based strategic planning
Staffordshire Data Observatory - Giving local strategic partners the data they need to make commissioning decisions in a customisable format
Liverpool PCT - How Liverpool PCT is using data presentation to improve access to its Joint Strategic Needs Assessment
Greater Merseyside Connexions Partnership - How data presentation is helping Connexions get a better understanding of hotspots for youth unemployment and training needs