That information allows the council to intervene earlier and better protect children, the elderly and vulnerable and tackle fraud.
The system has already helped to stop 10 instances of ‘Right to Buy’ fraud at the council. Camden recently received £19,000 thanks to an ‘unlawful profit order’ after the index helped to identify a tenant illegally subletting a three-bed property in Holborn, she explained.
The platform launched just under a year ago at a cost of £360,000, so the council will only need to find 20 similar cases for it to pay for itself, Simpson said.
The authority is currently examining how it could use the data to map take-up of services, demographics, incidents and other trends in specific geographic areas. This will allow it to better target services and plan delivery on a more long-term basis, she added.
The council’s five-year ‘Camden Plan’, published in 2012, provided the main incentive for the project, Simpson explained.
“There was no way to link customer data together. Matching people across systems – especially those in complex situations – was a huge manual undertaking, with people looking at spreadsheets and judging if households and people matched across different services,” she said.
Simpson has already won a ‘women in IT’ award for her role leading the project.
She offered a word of advice to others hoping to implement similar data matching schemes: “Don’t think of it as a tech project”.
Instead, Simpson said she focused on securing senior buy-in for the scheme, ensuring the system was user-friendly so staff wouldn’t require training and overcoming issues around data sensitivity and potential resistance to sharing.
“The frontline teams have been very quick at adopt it, because they can suddenly see all this information – 16 individuals registered at the same flat, say – that they could never get to before. What I love about this project is it’s immediately useful and delivers time savings right away.
“I’ve been waiting eight years to do this project, since I first saw the need for it when I ran children’s IT. I can’t tell you how happy I am we’ve got there at last”, she added.
The index, which is hosted within the council, is based on IBM’s Infosphere system and was implemented by UK data management firm Entity.
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