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Community, people & culture

Protecting vulnerable people in Torfaen

Posted: 30 October 2014

During the Swine Flu epidemic in 2009 Torfaen County Borough Council had an urgent need to identify vulnerable people living in the borough. At

the time, there was no single system in place in which linked data together from all back office systems as well as outside agencies to provide a common view. Such a system was needed which allowed Emergency Planning, Social Services, and other relevant departments to spatially identify people at risk at short notice. This case study describes the development Potentially Vulnerable Persons database to help target services in an emergency situation more effectively.
Issue

the time, there was no single system in place in which linked data together from all back office systems as well as outside agencies to provide a common view. Such a system was needed which allowed Emergency Planning, Social Services, and other relevant departments to spatially identify people at risk at short notice.
Solution

The GIS team approached the Emergency Planning department with a solution, which involved no initial cost of purchasing systems. The solution was powered by current address data through the Local Land and Property Gazetteer (LLPG). The LLPG is contained within AddressBase Premium and made available to all Public Sector Mapping Agreement members through Ordnance Survey.
Following a data cleansing exercise, various databases were linked together using a combined automatic, and manual, matching exercise. This matching process was underpinned by the LLPG:

  • Social Services data was already linked to the LLPG and available in map format. This function allowed home care and meals on wheels clients to be viewable on a map, and a full data export from the social services software was already available to Social Services staff through GIS, which was updated on a regular basis
  • Birth data was also held on GIS for planning future school places requirements for Education; this enabled the identification of locations of babies and young children
  • Other datasets mapped included pharmacies, doctors, and health clinics as well as emergency response centres, should an emergency plan be put in place where medication could be dispatched if the pharmacies and doctors were overwhelmed with cases. For the first time, this enabled the use of outside partner agencies data to be visually used in conjunction with council data on one system, which is secure, easily accessible and available 24/7. It allowed clusters of people who were at risk, such as under 5's and over 60's, etc to be identified quickly. This would in turn help to coordinate target areas should the need arise rather than dispatching officers from various agencies in an ad hoc manner.


Outcomes

The purpose of the project was to visually identify potentially vulnerable people in an emergency. The project successfully delivered a workable solution in the form of the Vulnerable Persons Database.
The main benefit of the Potentially Vulnerable Persons database has been the creation of a one stop viewing platform using GIS which can be used for future service provision analysis as well as for use in an emergency situation. The database has subsequently been used for the severe cold winters, flooding risk areas, and even potential bomb scares, and to target areas for future service provision.
The database is a good example of how different departments from within public services can work collaboratively for the benefit of people and communities. Uniquely this database has been cost neutral as all the systems i.e. LLPG Management System, matching systems and corporate GIS are already in place.
Welsh Government were keen to roll out the database throughout Wales. A successful European Social Fund project bid worth approximately £500k for a tripartite venture for Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly local authorities followed.

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