I was commissioned, along with Martin Price as part of consultancy.coop to evaluate the Vulnerability Intelligence (VI) Project for Blaenau Gwent CBC. The project grew out of a number of initiatives in public service in Wales and in the partner public authorities in Gwent, and was a joint initiative with the Local Service Boards (LSBs), which serve the counties of Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly and Torfaen. The project ran for two years, ending in December 2014.
The lead authority, Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, managed the project, which received £520,000 of European Social Fund grant money from Welsh Government to work with four key partners – Caerphilly County Borough Council, Torfaen County Borough Council, Gwent Police and Aneurin Bevan Health Board.
The basic idea was to develop mechanisms for sharing data to enable better targeting of vulnerable people in the area, and hence allow for the development of better quality and more cost-effective services. Essentially, each of the partners has data which is not shared with others, but which could be much more useful at a strategic and operational level.
Explaining the concept was a particular issue for the project, so some concrete examples may be useful. For example, it would be helpful for operational staff called to a property to have further information about the individuals associated with it:
- A health visitor to be aware that a gun is registered to the property
- The police to be aware that a person with learning difficulties lives there
- Any service to know that an older vulnerable person lives on their own there.
There are examples of existing data sharing on a piecemeal basis such as the arrangement whereby the private sector supplier of oxygen to individuals in the area, provides information to the Fire Service, so fire crews are able to take appropriate precautions if they are called out to an incident.
We evaluated the project looking at:
- How the project was originally envisaged
- How it was actually delivered
- The lessons to be learned
- The results and their impact
Overall, the project fulfilled its objects, despite the considerable changes to the timetabling. This has been the result of considerable energy and effort put in by the Project Manager and Atos Consulting. This was a credit to the individuals concerned, and to the locally based public bodies involved in the project.
Our evaluation of this project indicated there is a tremendous scope to use data sharing across agencies to produce a multi-level data set that can identify those individuals who are most vulnerable with reasonable accuracy, and that this can be used as a tool to deliver resources in a targeted and more effective way.
The combined value of data sets used within the proof of concept phase of the project has led to some of the benefits below, and also highlighted the importance of a data quality improvement agenda.
- Data sharing between services is possible, and datasets can be consolidated to provide a single view
- Each service holds data on a range of different people, when joined these improve the overall picture
- Individual timelines can provide invaluable insight for public service providers
- Strategic level analytical work can provide clear insight for targeted allocation of resource
- Dashboards provide clear, intuitive access to complex data allowing users to draw actionable conclusions
- Cleaning the data provides considerable benefit
- Seeing how other people have tackled common problems aids learning
The use of innovative Data Analytic modelling techniques was particularly successful.