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How Local Authorities can get value from their data

Tuesday 12 November 2019 Data Insight & Analytics

Luke Hardy's picture
By Luke Hardy

Local Authorities are under pressure to improve service delivery while facing increasing budgetary constraints. However, the growing use of intelligent data solutions is beginning to change how local authorities work from the inside out.

When business intelligence is implemented in a local authority, everyone from staff to residents can benefit. In this article we look at some of the ways local authorities are starting to use business intelligence to meet the ultimate local authority goal – creating a thriving society.

Everything in one place

Being able to run a local authority relies heavily upon the management and response to information, in order to provide all the services that community needs. This ranges from social care, parking, housing availability, waste collection, community safety and much more. Often this data is siloed in hard to manage manual systems, meaning teams work for the data, as opposed to the other way around.

For local authority management, these siloed systems present a big challenge for getting a complete picture of things like individual and family situations, community needs and clarity on exactly where money is being spent.

Bringing all of the data from multiple sources into a centralised dashboard means local authorities can make changes to services that are accurately based on the requirements of the people the service is for.

Some local authorities are using this to produce a ‘single view’ of residents who are using a number of different services. Having access to this full view means that staff can make more effective decisions with the confidence that they have all the information. This is having great success in areas such as childcare where there may be data collected across health, education and social care.

Having all the information in one place also creates the opportunity to ensure that residents feel that no matter what service they’re using it’s a joined-up process. Removing the need to repeat or duplicate information gives residents an improved experience.

Data Quality - Spending and Efficiency

Local authorities are currently facing two pressures from two different sides of the organisation. The first is the budget constraint, a result of long-term funding cuts at Central Government level. The second is the increased expectation of improving services and delivering value for money to residents.

For local authorities working with different providers, having all of your data in one place can produce huge benefits when it comes to managing spending. This means finding the gaps in tight budgets and being able to allocate funds where they will provide the most value.

This is a near impossible task without a clear view on all the data, but by implementing an analytics solution with easy to use dashboards provides the ability to plug all of your data in and start to identify and reduce inefficiencies. It also creates a way to review performance across services and pick up potential future problems either before they occur or in a much more proactive fashion.

To deliver value for money to residents, councils need to adapt to new and innovative ways of working. This often translates to the improved efficient services, and the expectation of more of a digital experience from services, comparable with the world around them.

The right service at the right time

When it comes to local authority work such as social care and public safety, a crucial part of the decision making is when and where to apply the service or intervention. Historically, this has been somewhat a reactive process, and a complex one at that.

Starting with the allocation of services, which when it comes to adult social care may require data from several different areas such as healthcare professionals, social workers and family. Then considering the volume of these cases to understand what pressure will be incurred on the resources available. Finally, ensuring the correct decision is made – where a wrong decision can either damage the individual’s relationship with and trust of the service, or at the other end risk missing someone in need.

Enter predictive analytics. Some local governments are now starting look at the increasing demand to move from reporting on “what happened?”, to asking the future proofing questions like “why did it happen?” and “how do we create a different outcome?” Simply put – the past helping to inform the future.

By utilising the data pouring into all these systems, past data is visualised into past outcomes and by taking all the relevant characteristics into account, this is used to produce a prediction for outcomes on new cases. These predictions can be used as decision making support and have implications from management to front-line.

While forecasting is not something particularly new to local government, over recent years budget constraints now mean this is an invaluable asset.

There are also some areas where the implementation of predictive analytics could give insight in areas of critical importance for local authorities, such as homelessness. The ability to analyse data on key factors that lead to homelessness and identify patterns, provides the opportunity for early intervention.

What does the future hold?

As more local authorities are starting to get the benefits from and realise the power analytics tools can have throughout their organisation, these solutions will continue to expand and improve in response to the demands of both authorities and residents.

We also expect to see more and more councils implementing a future proofed business intelligence strategy.

Find out how data solutions are changing how local authorities work from the inside out

How Local Authorities can get value from their data