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Tackling issues earlier through smarter use of data

Too often issues are only dealt with when a crisis occurs. A child is excluded from school for disruptive behaviour. An elderly man ends up in Accident and Emergency after having a fall. Police are called out to a domestic abuse incident within a home.

As organisations working across Essex to deliver public services, we know that early intervention can prevent issues escalating which is better for the people affected and less expensive for the taxpayer.

The Essex Data (ED) programme is a pilot funded by a grant awarded to Essex Partners to support system wide transformation. The Essex Data Programme has brought together people and technology to offer a way for Councils, Police, health and voluntary and community organisations in Essex to use the power of data to tackle some of our most challenging issues.

ED is a first for Essex and is innovative because it is using data from across the public sector to predict what challenges the future may hold for people.

Together organisations can safely share and analyse anonymous data they hold about communities and use it to drive decisions they make. With this predictive insight we are able to intervene early and design and deliver services that help improve people’s lives and by targeting these services more accurately to the right people we reduce demand and cost for services. In 2016-17 public services spent more than £16 billion on ‘late intervention’ services such as education, health, housing, benefits, community safety and criminal justice.

A tool has been developed in partnership with PredictX to store and match the data and allows us to combine multiple sets of data from different organisations, for example schools, social workers and hospitals, and share the information safely and without identifying individuals. The data can be regularly refreshed to provide a dynamic picture and to refine risk predictions. This has massive potential for improving people’s lives and managing services such as health, because it enables us to deliver help early, which could reduce risk and prevent negative outcomes associated with hard to tackle issues such as Domestic Abuse.

The pilot programme began in August 2016 and will run until August 2018. During this time the tool is being tested within different services in Essex so we can understand the potential of this type of technology to address some of our big challenges and transform the way public services work together.

New Generations

Driven by an ambition to improve children’s life chances and to give them the best start in life, Essex County Council, Basildon Borough Council, Essex Police and the University of Essex have shared data through the Essex Data Programme to predict the communities in Basildon where children are most at risk of not being ‘school ready’.

‘School readiness’ describes a set of criteria that includes factors such as speech, language, social interaction, and toileting, and is used to determine if a child is able to get the best out of school when they start in reception at age five.

Existing data told us that in 2013 around 50 per cent of five year olds in Basildon were not ready to go to school. This is important because Ofsted reports that few children who start school behind are able to catch up before they leave full time education at age 18.

Using school readiness as a measure enabled us to gain more detailed information about children in Basildon who may need our support in future so that we can get in early, and design services that prevent issues from arising.

Focusing on Vange an area in Basildon that was identified as one of the high risk communities during the data analysis - with one in four children in Vange currently not school ready - we combined data on Social Care, School Readiness, Youth Offending and Drugs and Alcohol from ECC, with Housing and Benefits data from Basildon District Council and crime data from Essex Police. None of the information that was shared identified a specific person. Personal information was replaced with codes so that individuals couldn't be identified.

We shared data to find out why children in Vange are not school ready and to determine how we could help early on. We also asked parents in Vange what it was like to raise their children there.

The data was matched with the community’s experience and gave us a full picture so that we are now better equipped to make decisions that strengthen the services available in the area to give children the best start in life in Vange, in turn improving their longer term outcomes in to adulthood and preventing service demand later on.  

We're currently working together with the community in Vange to co-design services that will give children everything they need to thrive. You can download the New Generations leaflet here.

Last updated 30/04/18



Learn how Essex Data is helping us to predict those at future risk by watching this short animation

Predictions made by the data are enabling us to design and deliver targeted interventions

We're co-designing services with families in Vange