Worcestershire Trials Cross-Public Sector Data Sharing Agency


The operation, set up to promote data collaboration by any public sector organisation in the county, is thought to be the first of its kind

cloudWorcestershire is set to launch a county-wide data-sharing agency that could serve as a model for other regions in the country.

The Worcestershire Office for Data and Analytics (WODA) is to formally launch in November, and is carrying out a set of six initial pilot projects as part of an initial 12-month testing phase.

The body is thought to be the first of its kind – while Worcestershire said other regions have adopted similar approaches, with plans for a data sharing agency in development for London, the county council said it believes WODA is the only one that embraces all local public sector organisations.

Better data sharing could mean a reduced strain on local services and better service for residents, as well as supporting compliance with data protection rules such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and identifying cost savings opportunities, the county believes.

Pilot projects

The project has been initiated with a governance structure that includes a project steering group and has recruited Neill Crump as its chief data officer. An information governance group is made up of data governance leads from partner organisations and advises on specialist issues such as ethical and lawful information sharing.

The six initial projects include pooling local business data in order to better target public services, collating police domestic violence information to identify repeat offenders and victims, and providing the Fire Service with the details of local vulnerable individuals so that risk assessments can be carried out in their homes.

The projects are at various levels of maturity, with implementation having begun on some of them.

Information collected as the pilots progress is to be used to guide the future of the agency itself, the council said.

“As implementation takes place, it will be possible to collect outcome data which in turn will be used to evidence the efficacy of the programme and provide baseline data against which to make future investment decisions,” Worcestershire County Council said in documentation on the plans.

The formal launch is intended to raise public awareness on WODA.

Expansion plans

The next step is to develop a business case for the agency beyond its initial phase, drawing on evaluations and appraisals from the pilot projects. Crump is to lead the planning, backed by resources from partner organisations, the council said.

The initial idea for WODA emerged from the executive group of the Worcestershire Partnership, the county’s strategic grouping for public sector organisations, which in May of last year commissioned KPMG to carry out an initial roadmap for how better processes could help improve the county’s service delivery.

KPMG’s report recommended the creation of a data sharing team and the executive group agreed to test out the idea.

In an interview with public sector news website UKAuthority Crump said £490,000 in seed funding was made available for WODA’s operations up to the end of March 2018.

Crump said there is a possibility the data-sharing agency could be extended outside the county, for instance working with Herefordshire, which already shares a health and social care transformation partnership with Worcestershire.

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