Local Social Progress Index

Full Application: Not funded at this stage

Many councils across the UK are finding that “inclusive growth” is a key philosophy for building better and more resilient communities. It is also widely understood that societal inequalities will need to be addressed. It is however, currently difficult to understand the differing pressures on communities in a spatial context and over time, in a single view. This makes it difficult to see on a hard data / evidence basis whether the things are getting better or worse in any given area. In turn this makes targeting of resources and co-ordination of interventions problematic across the public sector.

In a Discovery Project, we were able to create a Social Progress Index dataset for Barking & Dagenham at ward level providing insight into a wide variety of output based social indicators. This is already enabling the council to better understand community needs using a geospatial visualization that will enable us to better target service provision. The current LBBD index can be viewed here: www.lbbd.gov.uk/socialprogressindex with its visualisation here: www.lbbd.gov.uk/boroughdataexplorer

There are significant benefits from having this type of data available in the highly localized level provided by our approach and that most councils and their partners would benefit from a similar capability. There will also be further benefits from aggregating the borough indicator data to form sub-regional and regional views of the data to facilitate understanding of cross boundary service drivers, dependencies and potential for efficiencies.

The presentation of the SPI for any council will be as a linkable web component. It is intended that councils will embed the SPI and visualization into their website to meet their local needs to present the data to both professionals for service planning and for the community.

The current implementation of the Local Social Progress Index is achieved using a lot of highly skilled data science manpower to process input data to useable forms and to validate the output data from the model produced by the current generation code. This Alpha project will take that method and reduce the input from data science resources by standardising and automating as much of the work as possible. It will however require data science resource at a reduced level to produce the Local SPI models for the foreseeable future. This means that it will need to be delivered as a composite service rather than a pure technology solution.

A successful outcome for this Alpha project will be to create a repeatable demonstrable service to produce a Local SPI for LBBD and at least one Alpha stage participating partner with the requirements and costs for scaling beyond the Alpha stage clearly set out to enable any council to commission. It will demonstrate that further scaling can be achieved at 1/10 (or better) of the cost of the original work in the discovery stage.

The project will be broken down into Phases and treated as a Programme within the Council, governed by the internal Programme Management Office:

  • Discovery (Complete, see section 3)
  • Launch at local scale, test Local Gov partner interest & opportunity evaluation (underway)
  • Productise = Alpha (This Phase)
  • Scale Out = Beta (Next Phase)

Each of the phases will be delivered as several goal stages using Agile techniques. As the programme proceeds into the Beta Scaling out phase, we will introduce Dev Ops methods to maintain the pace of innovation.

The Productise (Alpha) phase will be delivered in 5 Goal stages:

  1. Ideation, Approval, Partnering & Funding
  2. Project Preparation
  3. Resourcing & Environment Development
  4. Base SPI Development
  5. Scale & Deploy at Alpha

The project will be managed and delivered in house but bringing in additional software development expertise. It will build out from the Council’s Insight Team, Digital Team and IT Management team. The objective of this stage is to create and demonstrate a scalable service to deliver the Local SPI cost effectively and repeatably. In this phase we will deliver:

  • Standardised and published data input formats for the base SPI data set
  • A defined and published database schema to hold the SPI dataset for a council
  • A cloud web service environment to provide the necessary technology using commercial cloud native services in a pay per use model with global scaling capability.
  • An automated process to transform and load the data into a database stripping any personal information and deleting the provided source data on completion of the load process.
  • Updated R software packages to work with more standardised data inputs from a database.
  • Processed data into a Local SPI data set across at least 2 years for LBBD and at least 1 year for the first partner organisation (further years of history are dependent on data availability) note: Replicating the original discovery work for LBBD using the new approach will give us a benchmark for the improvement in efficiency achieved using the production approach.
  • Published data into a per council standard SPI format hosted in a way to make it easily linkable from a council web page.
  • Introducing new globally scalable map visualisations to ensure relevance of the solution to a wider audience and to give predictable costs for delivery at scale. Introduce open source data visualisation.
  • A service model to allow councils and other public bodies to commission the SPI as a service in a lawful and commercially attractive model.
  • A business case showing the cost of the problem and the potential benefit it brings to both the participating councils and to UK public sector in general if it is fully scaled.

The Early Intervention Foundation’s research and analysis 2016 found the total cost to public services of late intervention was £16.6Bn across England and Wales. This figure has not fallen since 2015 and the largest share of the cost was borne by local authorities at £6.4Bn. This same analysis put Barking & Dagenham’s cost at £81m. One of the recommendations of this report was catalyse a more preventative approach to commissioning, local pooling of resources across agencies and improved joint action and stresses the importance of “knowing” where the key issues that communities face lie.

However, presently, it is difficult to understand the differing pressures on communities in a spatial context and over time. This makes it difficult to see on a hard data / evidence basis whether the situation is getting better or worse in any given area. Consequently, this makes targeting of public resources and co-ordination of interventions problematic across the public sector.

It is not currently possible to assess how much money, time, citizen life quality and opportunity are lost through less than optimal projects with funding directed inefficiently as a result of a lack of understanding of the local social situation in any given area.

The Local SPI as we envisage it will be delivered as a service and will enable Local and Regional Government to understand exactly where problems are by showing a consistent set of social outcome measures in a rich combined form to better inform intervention decision making. It will continue to develop the data over time to understand the direction of travel for each indicator over the monitored area. This will show clearly whether activity is causing improvements in outcomes or not and how fast any improvement or deterioration is taking place. This will provide a very strong basis for user research.

Indices that measure quality of life exist at a global level; the global Social Progress Index (https://www.socialprogress.org/) aggregates 50+ social and environmental outcome indicators to reveal:

  • how well people are truly living
  • how economic changes are affecting quality of life
  • what improvements can have the greatest impact on society

The global SPI includes data from 146 countries covering 98% of the world’s population. The European Commission has adopted SPI to measure social progress across the EU’s 272 regions to help guide its $100+ billion Cohesion Strategy. The US States social progress index was launched in April 2018 – the first measurement of quality of life across all 50 American states. The Social Progress Imperative’s US Initiative is to provide all of America’s cities with insight into how they can improve quality of life by 2022. Here at LBBD we have already achieved that initiative. In September 2018 we formally launched our local SPI (www.lbbd.gov.uk/socialprogressindex). This is a pioneering use of administrative and other data to bring the comparative measure of social progress to a local level for the first time anywhere in the world.

The SPI scorecards that are available for each of our 17 wards focus on what is important to the residents of LBBD. They allow us to compare 53 outcomes within the different parts of our borough around some of the key issues experienced by local people and society, such as personal safety, health and well being and inclusiveness amongst others.

The local SPI has become an invaluable tool for policy makers to:

  • Track progress
  • Measure outcomes, on inclusive growth and “no-one left behind”
  • Attract inward investment

As a local SPI visualisation tool, we also formally launched our Borough Data Explorer (www.lbbd.gov.uk/boroughdataexplorer) in September 2018. This on-line platform provides geospatial views at different geographies for all the indicators within our SPI plus other indicators that feature in our 20-year Borough Manifesto vision. In total there are 88 indicators in the explorer and the geographic visualisation layers include borough level (covering all London boroughs), ward level (covering only LBBD) and LSOA level (covering only LBBD)

We firmly believe that the launch of these inter-linked tools empowers people for the first time with a comprehensive understanding of the true state of society within Barking and Dagenham. There simply are no other tools/resources available at the current time that can do this.

During the discovery phase we ensured the index would be scalable by choosing indicators which are likely to be collected in other councils. Approximately 60% of the indicators came from council systems and the remaining 40% are publicly reported. We therefore know that at least 40% of the ward-level index can be reproduced and geospatially analysed across the UK without the need for other councils to send us any data. The Health and Wellness component of the index is made up of entirely public data and as a proof of concept we have mapped this component across London boroughs and have shown these to some potential partners (see: https://lbbddigitalinsight.github.io/map_page.html).

Our methodological partner, the Social Progress Imperative, have confirmed we are the only local authority in the world to have built the index at a ward level and they have received a request by the EU commission to explore drilling down some of their existing regional indices into a ward level like our own index. This illustrates that even internationally our project could have a potential impact.

We will ensure our work is relevant to others by continuing to use administrative datasets from council sources, which ensures that each index as comparable across geographic boundaries.

The LBBD SPI and borough data explorer have been launched publicly. There are two major events where the project has been showcased. Firstly, at the “State of the Borough Conference” the project was showcased to over 100 stakeholders from outside of the council, which has activated multiple cross-sector strategies to collectively deal with some of the borough’s most pressing issues. Secondly the results of project were used on a three-day leadership event held by the council with the most senior directors in the organisation. Consequently, several business cases have been aligned to the results of the project and now new ideas to improve social outcomes are being developed into proposals. One proposal for example is on fuel poverty. The council are starting their own renewable energy company to alleviate fuel poverty for its residents. Using the results of our project, the council now knows exactly who in the borough would benefit.

The objective of this stage is to create and demonstrate a scalable service to deliver the SPI cost effectively and repeatably. In this phase we will deliver:

  1. A business case showing the cost of the problem and the potential benefit it brings to both the participating councils and to UK public sector in general if it is fully scaled.
  2. A User research report explaining the design rationale for the components of the Alpha SPI.
  3. An accessible product as set out in response to Q2 including
    • Standardised and published data input formats for the base SPI data set
    • A defined and published database schema to hold the SPI dataset for a council
    • A cloud web service environment to provide the necessary technology using commercial cloud native services in a pay per use model with global scaling capability.
    • A process to transform and load the data into a database stripping any personal information and deleting the provided source data on completion of the load process.
    • Updated R software packages to work with more standardised data inputs from a database.
    • Processed data into an SPI data set across at least 2 years for LBBD and at least 1 year for the first partner organisation (further years of history are dependent on data availability)
    • Published data into a per council standard SPI format hosted in a way to make it easily linkable from a council web page.
  4. A service model to allow councils to commission the SPI as a service in a lawful and commercially attractive model.
  5. A proposal for a beta project and / or other recommended actions.

The target users of the Local SPI are:

  • Council Service Commissioners

 

  • Continue to work with service commissioners within LBBD (as we did in the discovery phase) and being engaging with the Alpha partner Councils through a series of workshops
  • Assess how partner councils intend to use the SPI data and visualisation
  • Look for ways to optimise the visualisation
  • Collate and validate options for possible future enhancement of the data set

Based on current conversations and interest from a wide range of Councils, we already know in this context that partner Councils see this as a way of delivering information on non-SPI data. LBBD have included some measures in the original work that are outside of the core SPI dataset but very useful for citizens to be able to view alongside the SPI data.

  • Regional and central government service commissioners

 

  • Work with Health STPs in North Central and East London
  • Prototype an STP layer to the dataset, weighted against the population that an STP covers and socialise this across London STPs to seek feedback (see: Health and STP drop down on: https://lbbddigitalinsight.github.io/map_page.html)
  • Collate and validate options for possible future enhancement of the data set or merging complementary data sets to provide relevant regional or sub regional consolidated views

Based on current conversations with North Central London STP (who have a keen interest in our project), we already know that a regional or sub regional consolidation view of Local SPI is high on the wants list for regional and sub regional bodies as well as councils.

  • The Third Sector

 

  • Consult with local charities to assess how comprehensible the data and visualisation is to them
  • Understand how the third sector might typically use the data e.g. in their own bids (see tweet by Liza Vallance from Studio3arts: https://lbbddigitalinsight.github.io/tweets.html)
  • Specifically test whether it will have an impact on democratic engagement for the sample groups
  • Understand how the Third sector would like to submit their own data and gather any specific needs

The SPI data is intended to be openly published so it is highly likely that other uses will emerge and that the dataset will be mined for a wide range of purposes. Similar to our methodological report (https://www.lbbd.gov.uk/social-progress-index) we will produce a user research report explaining the design rationale for the Alpha SPI.

There has been no external funding for this project to date.

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