Sharing information to predict the future

Imogen Heywood,
Engagement Manager,
Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing

New Year’s resolutions are something I’ve never really embraced (why wait for specific date to commit to doing something differently?), but I do find myself at the start of a new year looking forward and wondering what the next 12 months will hold.

Wanting to predict the future, or at least getting a heads up as to what’s coming, is something we often wish for not just as individuals, but also in our work to deliver better services for local people.  The good news is that it’s not just wishful thinking, it’s something that public services can and are doing, using shared data to predict future risk and target services accordingly –  known in the trade as predictive risk analysis or risk stratification.

One place investing in this approach is Essex, where the Essex Partnership are developing an innovative approach to risk modelling (using data drawn from a number of different partners) in order to improve commissioning, achieve cashable benefits of around £27m over 10 years, and most importantly, improve outcomes for local people.

At the heart of the Essex Data Programme is the development and use of a new data platform to share, match and model pseudonymised data from across partners.  This platform will be used to develop a number of risk models, the first of which is aimed at improving school readiness in the ward of Vange (part of the Basildon district) by informing the commissioning of children’s services in South Essex.

However, the programme is not just a stand-alone, technology based solution.  Rather, it forms part of a wider transformational programme (funded by a £3.3m Transformation Challenge Award grant from the Department of Communities and Local Government). So the risk models generated and the resulting commissioning activity, are complemented by other early intervention workstreams, such as community asset mapping, and social prescribing.

Excitingly, my year ahead includes working with Essex on their Data Program, as they successfully applied to the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Data Experts programme and secured a small pot of funding to work with us on capturing and sharing the learning from their work so far.  Tim Adams, LGA Programme Manager for the data expert programme said The use of data plays an important role in public services to improve outcomes and drive efficiencies. This programme is an opportunity for us to get a better understanding of the value of data in public service transformation and set out a vision to encourage local authorities to open up, share and use it better. “

This work has included the development of an information sharing protocol between Essex County Council, Essex Police and Basildon District Council, designed to support the sharing of pseudonymised data about school readiness.  Agreed in November 2016, the ISP is seen by Patrick Guthrie, Head of Public Service Reform at Essex County Council as a key milestone on the journey so far, stating that “it is a success not just because of the range of datasets being shared (such as, housing and benefits data, Children’s social care data, youth offending service data, drug and alcohol misuse data, and Police and crime data) but also as it demonstrates the strength of the relationships which have been built with key partners during the programme’s development.”

We’ll be working with Essex over the next few months, so watch this space for more news, or sign up to our newsletter for regular updates.  In the meantime, you can find a copy of the Information Sharing Protocol developed for the Essex Data programme, as well as a number of other useful documents, on the Whole Essex Information Sharing Framework (WEISF) website.

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