We recently completed the discovery phase of the Merthyr Food Poverty Data project. As a team we felt the stated goal to identify at least one potentially viable solution to the problem question had been achieved, and recommended moving the project into an alpha phase.
How can a better understanding and use of data help Merthyr council deliver targeted early intervention that reduces the likelihood of citizens falling into food poverty?
The test idea for alpha
Our findings at discovery showed that information (data) relating to individual citizens is located across many council and partner systems with access often kept within specific teams.
The aim of this alpha is to solve the issue of officers not being aware of a recent change in circumstance that places a citizen under their care at increased risk of crisis, even though the changes are available somewhere on a council system.
By having access to timely supplementary information, the idea is officers will have a fuller picture of what is happening, putting them in a stronger position to make targeted early interventions. For this alpha it means interventions that reduce the likelihood of a citizen falling into food poverty.
Testing our idea
Our alpha goal is to be able to say with confidence that we have a viable and cost-effective solution to the problem question that is worth taking forward to beta.
We aim to test our ability to securely bring together information from several council systems into a single read-only aggregated visualisation. Then, through consultation with Merthyr’s poverty subject matter experts, we will explore how to use the information to create a RAG (Red, Amber, Green) status report of individual citizens at risk of slipping into food poverty.
At discovery we analysed seven council and three third sector IT systems. For alpha we plan to test bringing together information from three: Capita One Education; Civica Housing; and Northgate Revenues and Benefits.
Fundamentally, this is a data project, which means it is all about finding new or improved ways of using data. It is not specifically about a type of technology or platform, so we are aiming to be platform agnostic.
We do of course need a way to handle the combined information, so at discovery we investigated several platform options with the aim of selecting one for use at alpha. The one we deemed easiest to use and with what we believed to have suitably robust data connectivity, handling and audit capabilities was the Capita One Single View product.
If at the end of alpha we have confidence to move to beta, we may seek opportunities to test other platforms alongside the Single View platform to further check the solution scalability.
The build of the Single View test platform is complete, and it is ready to receive information. Our focus is now on connecting the three separate data sources and identifying and weighting poverty-indicator data for use within the RAG status report.
We will continue to provide updates on the project as we go through alpha and into any potential beta phase. To stay up to date with all our communications, sign up to our newsletter.