A two pronged solution in North East Lincolnshire
This case study explores how North East Lincolnshire Council has achieved improvements in its local address data against a backdrop of increased pressure on staff resources and I.T. challenges.
A two pronged strategic and data orientated approach has resulted in vastly improving data quality. This has been achieved through staff restructuring alongside hard work and a concentrated effort put in by the officer responsible for data maintenance. The case study concludes with lessons learned from the officers involved.
Background to the project and organisations and who was involved
North East Lincolnshire Council is a unitary authority within the Yorkshire and Humber region. The authority has a statutory responsibility to create street names and numbers for streets and properties within the authority. The function is partly outsourced as part of a wider strategic regeneration partnership.
The authority maintain a Local Land and Property Gazetteer (LLPG) which holds the definitive list of properties within the area. The definitive list of streets is also maintained, relevant for managing local highways and roadworks in the form of the Local Street Gazetteer (LSG).
North East Lincolnshire Council has faced several problems associated with the maintenance of the LLPG data, including the absence of a dedicated member of staff. As a result, because of the relatively high levels of real world change in properties and streets, the currency and quality of the data suffered.
In addition, software issues were causing problems. Plus, there were inefficiencies caused by duplication of some stages of the work between the street naming and numbering function; LLPG function and the LSG function. This showed in lower synchronicity levels between the LLPG and LSG and also anomalies between the data.
The LLPG wasn't greatly used within the authority and as such, there was great untapped potential. On a national scale, the data is used by fire and rescue services and other public sector bodies through the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA - now replaced by the Public Sector Geospatial Agreement). Given this, the quality of the data is paramount. It is common that in authorities where the data is not widely used internally, it is more difficult to secure funding and resources to support the programme in a sustainable way.
A two pronged approach was taken to tackle the problems. The first was at a strategic level through better alignment of the SNN-LLPG-LSG functions. Furthermore, the policy underpinning street naming and numbering was updated. Additionally, staffing levels were reviewed. The second focused on the work required to improve and develop the LLPG data up to a fit for purpose standard.
The Planning and Building Control Business Improvement Manager initiated and delivered the implementation of a project to merge the SNN-LLPG-LSG functions into one system. The value of ensuring all functions across the council use the same data was a key driver. Merging the LLPG and LSG functions also eliminates the need for duplicating street records onto the second system.
Although different members of staff still carry out the vital maintenance functions, having the data within the same system enables easier transfer of intelligence during the property lifecycle and through to the LLPG and LSG.
In addition to this development to the systems, the Address Intelligence Officer volunteered to take over responsibility for the day to day maintenance of the LLPG. Through hard work carried out in a systematic way, there has been huge improvements in the data, measured through the Improvement Schedules. All measures within the Improvement Schedules have improved.
The Address Intelligence Officer has also updated North East Lincolnshire Council's street naming and numbering policy, which includes reference to the value of the LLPG for the authority and is intended to act as an internal guide to address creation and usage.
Outcomes and impact
The changes implemented have resulted in data that is improving month on month. The approach the Address Intelligence officer has taken is to first improve the quality of the data and then to increase use through greater trust in the data and the maintenance process.
This trust is slowly being gained by demonstrating the value of the work undertaken. For example, several previously unknown properties have been found which is of great value to the building control and council tax teams.
The next steps of the project are the areas where the significantly positive impact of the work will be realised for North East Lincolnshire Council. There are plans to roll out connectors to enable authority departments to dynamically make use of the data. There are also plans to link the system to feed the CRM system to begin with, and other functions in the future.
Key lessons from the project
The improvements made so far have relied on a few key elements. These include:
- having senior level support to drive improvements and make changes if required
- good working relationships between the person responsible for the LLPG and other council functions, such as the Waste Management, LSG Custodian, Building control, Council tax team etc
- bringing the LLPG and LSG maintenance together into one system, as in the case of North East Lincolnshire Council, has brought real benefits in terms of data synchronicity
- being proactive to correct and improve the data
- monitoring progress using the Improvement Schedules and targeting specific areas to improve
- making use of the GeoPlace Helpdesk, who are there to support all local authorities under the Data Co-operation Agreement (DCA) [email protected]
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