Government board eyes single view of citizens

22 Jul 2003

UK infrastructure specialist VisionWare has won the tender for a pilot project to help the Local Government Computer Services Board (LGCSB) develop a data interoperability framework. Charged with enabling local authorities through technology, the LGCSB sees the contract as a crucial building block towards creating a groundbreaking system for a single view of citizens.

A cornerstone to the concept of ‘joined-up government’, such a system could enable any government body to pull in data from disparate data sets to construct a complete and accurate single view. The contract was awarded around two ‘proof of concept’ projects. The first is an inhouse employees’ portal at the LGCSB, the second will be aimed at constructing a citizen single view in Meath County Council, pooling information from different sections such as the electronic register, housing and planning.

The terms of the tender are for a cross-government solution that could be scaled and adapted for other state organisations once the pilots are successfully completed.

According to LGCSB director Tim Willoughby, the goal is to create a way of managing data dynamically while making sure it always resides where it belongs. “It’s about keeping data in its natural home where the data manager knows how to take care of it while making it available for a single view,” he said.

VisionWare’s business development director Robert Crozier (pictured), elaborated: “The custodianship of the data belongs with the people who own that data. A citizen will be known on a housing system by an index number, for example, and in every other department there will be a different number. People move, single people get married, all these are typical changes in the lifecycle of a customer.”

This makes it difficult to manage the information and often causes duplication according to Crozier: “In Scotland there is a rural authority with a population of 450,000 yet it has 650,000 records. The new data interoperability framework will cure this kind of problem.”

The core product in the trial phase will be VisionWare’s MultiVue Identication Server. It will interoperate with all the different legacy data sets and pool them into one big ‘superset’. If it comes across a change in a citizen’s circumstances, it feeds it back to the owners of the original data for the administrator to make the updates.

According to Crozier, 95pc of VisonWare’s business is in the UK public sector. The LGCSB contract is a first win in Ireland and while the pilot project is modest in the short term, he believes it has great potential based on the unique nature of the partnership.

“Rarely in business have I seen a closer compatibility and a greater synergy between what they do [LGCSB] and the technologies they use and a provider organisation like ourselves,” he said.

The synergy comes from using the same standardised platforms. Both organisations work extensively with Microsoft’s range of technologies including its SharePoint portal and .Net architecture. SharePoint provides the basis of every local authority intranet and it is the browser platform used by VisionWare for its CRM offering.

By Ian Campbell