Microsoft CityNext: The key to turning data into citizen insights

Leicester City Council provides a variety of housing, social care, education, licensing, leisure and environmental services to all of Leicester’s residents. Most people use multiple services at the same time – and access to one service (like housing) can affect access to another (like education). City offices must comb through disparate data sources and reporting tools to make sure everyone gets the best care. Those complications can hamper citizen engagement and lead to increased costs. Leicester City Council wanted to eliminate information silos, gain better business intelligence insights, and share data more easily.

“More often than not, Nobody had access to all the data,” says Marlo Valente, Head of Enterprise Services at Leicester City Council. “So when a new case was established by one of the teams, people would spend half a day ringing up colleagues for information.”

As a result, it could be difficult to track the records of an individual citizen, let alone monitor programs that affected entire communities. “It was very difficult to get an overview because it depended on finding the right person with the information you needed,” says Valente. “For example, we might be paying benefits to someone who owed money to another service. But without a way to easily share data, different parts of the council had no way of knowing that they were involved with the same citizen.”

Leicester City Council wanted better insight into the services provided to citizens.  In 2010, the council kicked off an overhaul of its entire IT environment that included replacing its aging Novell infrastructure with Microsoft products including Microsoft Office 2010. The council also implemented Microsoft BizTalk Server 2010 to connect disparate applications to a data warehouse based on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise software and the Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise operating system. The solution integrated not only internal data sources, but also local crime and demographic data. Then the council created a reporting solution based on SQL Server 2008 R2 Reporting Services and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010.

Now, the council can quickly produce reports, gain valuable and actionable insight into its services and citizens, and extend its BI platform with new capabilities as the need arises. As a result, Leicester City Council has more opportunities to transform communities and improve the lives of its citizens. 

“With a Microsoft BI solution based on SQL Server, we can quickly spin up reports and performance indicators,” The it created a central SharePoint portal with multiple dashboards for visualizing data according to the user’s role and area of interest. The council is using the new BI and reporting tools to locally support the United Kingdom’s Troubled Families program.

The solution opens doors for engaging citizens and improving communities. The program’s goal is to identify families in need of help and then provide the appropriate resources. By integrating data sets from agencies such as education, law enforcement, and social benefits, council staff or officers can immediately identify at-risk families. Equally important, they can use the same tools to monitor the family members after they receive help.

The council’s new technology is yielding a number of benefits, including:

  • Easier Access to Mission-Critical Data: Before, with multiple reporting tools and information silos, it was virtually impossible to pull together information. Now, council staff or officers can quickly find all the data they need in a central interface. For example, the council recently integrated a new social care system with the solution, which gives social workers better insight into the families they serve.
  • Faster Reporting and Better Performance Tracking: Leicester City Council is using an end-to-end Microsoft BI solution to make measurable improvements in the lives of its citizens. The council can track service delivery across multiple external agencies and appoint one person to handle reporting, rather that the cross-office team of people the task used to require.
  • Improved Support for New Services: The council has the platform it needs to provide new services, as well as improve efficiency. The council is also increasing transparency by allowing citizens to easily browse, view, and map published data. And by making more services accessible through mobile devices, citizen engagement is stronger than ever.

But the Leicester City Council looks forward to extending its solution further. It has already integrated law enforcement data and is working on integrating information from the National Health Service. The council also plans to upgrade to SQL Server 2014 and implement new cloud-based reporting tools with Microsoft Power BI for Office 365. “Now that we have the basic platform in place, we’re planning to bring in new data sources from the field of education, and something similar from housing. We’re going to make as much use of this solution as we can,” says Valente.

Learn more about how Leicester City Council is transforming it's approach to citizen engagement and register to attend Future Decoded for more business intelligence insights.