Information sharing made easy

Stuart Bolton,
Engagement Manager,
Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing

A few weeks me and my colleagues from the Centre travelled over to Chelmsford to speak at the Whole Essex Information Sharing Frameworks (WEISF) annual conference. We weren’t sure how difficult our job was going to be on the day but it turned out Essex made it quite easy for us.

We had been invited along by WEISF as guests to speak at their first Annual Conference and we were on the bill alongside one of our close partners Andrew Rose of the ICO. I was looking forward to the conference as it was a great chance to find out how the WEISF had progressed since the Centre last got involved for its launch back in 2014.

There were around 100 people at Essex Records Office for the day and Essex County Council’s David Wilde, Chief Information Officer opened up proceedings and welcomed us. Gill Furlong, Head of Information Sharing Strategy and Information Governance followed and between them they set the context and mapped the journey Essex has been on as it has developed the WEISF. Lauri Almond, Senior Policy Officer then gave an overview of the Greater Essex Information Strategy which supports the WEISF and sets out their vision for information sharing.

Next we heard about service development in three different areas and how they have each benefitted from WEISF to develop their approach to information sharing. Information sharing is supporting addressing fraud to protect Essex’s £1 billion Council Tax revenue, developing a new system for collaborative criminal justice and community safety case management and strengthening the identification and response to safeguarding.

What stood out for me from the different journeys people were describing was how the focus was more on the cultural, behavioural and people factors that impact on information sharing than those around technology or information governance. Whether it was David Wilde picking up on the impact of language and issues of data quality with ‘the 16 different ways of spelling ‘Saffend’ (Southend) identified so far’; Gill Furlong identifying the essential role of leadership and the need to capitalise on ‘the rare commodity of leadership interest in information sharing’; or Rob Hawes, Revenues and Benefits Manager highlighting the benefit of a strong vision that provides the ‘commitment across Essex to information sharing, that is the way in’.

All of this made our job easy! When we took to the platform to speak about the issue of culture and information sharing all we had to do was draw on the comments and stories that had been made by those before us as they clearly illustrated the cross-cutting themes we have identified. We picked up on two of the key cross-cutting themes, leadership, including vision and collaboration; and risk, both organisations who share and individuals whose information is being shared.

There are of course a number of other cross-cutting themes that need to be considered and all of these feature in our latest publication that was launched at our recent Landmark Event. You can read this report and find out more about what other local places have to say about their experience and learning around culture and information sharing by clicking on the link below:

Cross cutting themes
We would just like to thank the WEISF for inviting us along to the day and giving us the opportunity to speak and also hear about what they have achieved and what they aim to do in the future. I know that WEISF’s work in Essex will help to make the information sharing journey that little bit easier for everyone.

And finally, do check back here as WEISF will be doing a guest blog reflecting on their journey and experience of working with us at the Centre.

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