GeoPlace explains how Nottingham City Council has shown an impressive RoI from its use of location data, and highlights the opportunity to find out how
Local authorities are widely aware of the value of data, and a growing number are now obtaining benefits from the intelligent integration of datasets that they already hold.
Address and street data is a crucial element and organisations such as Nottingham City Council have been showing how to use it for impressive returns in improving services and efficiency savings.
Working with GeoPlace and ConsultingWhere, the authority has carried out a cost-benefit analysis of its use of location data between 2018-22, showing that it generated an estimated return on investment (RoI) of well over 4:1 and a net present value (NPV) of £4.1 million.
The study focused on Nottingham’s use of the Local Land and Property Gazetteer (LLPG) and Local Street Gazetteer (LSG) databases (also known as the local address and street gazetteers) and unique property reference numbers (UPRNs) and unique street reference numbers (USRNs), which enable the integration different datasets in which they are included.
Efficiencies in integration
One of the prime benefits was in reducing the duplication of effort in data integrations, with significant time savings, the potential to increase the number of integrations and reduce the effort in maintaining data. This produced estimated net benefits of £2.4 million.
Another came from an effort by the geographical information systems (GIS) team to identify missing business rates through data matching and spatial data analysis. It was able to check other commercial property data sources, such as commercial waste and food licensing – for which the addresses would have UPRNs assigned – to its non-domestic rates accounts, identifying properties that should potentially be paying business rates. This led to a handful of properties being billed a total of over £570,000 in 2023.
UPRNs were used in matching data from the systems of partners working with Nottingham’s children’s integrated services to identify families in need of support, then follow up with appropriate interventions.
They were also important in enabling the safer housing team to link datasets in checking licence applications from private landlords and searching records on property sales in the city. This provided efficiency gains in both enforcement pre-enforcement investigations, searches and record creations.
The LLPG has also supported the council’s workplace parking levy – under which all businesses with 10 or more parking spaces attached to their premises need to be licensed – helping to obtain revenue for reinvestment into sustainable transport. And the gazetteer has been used to support electoral registration and planning.
In addition, Nottingham’s GIS and carbon neutral policy teams have been investigating how to use the UPRN in bringing together datasets to support decarbonisation efforts: for example, to inform funding bids and targeted retrofitting schemes.
More to come
Looking forward, the council expects to obtain further benefits in areas including social care data management, improved energy conservation and revenue from identifying more properties where business rates are not being collected, as well as further improved data integration.
These are projected to bring the total NPV for 2018-26 to £9.8 million with an RoI of just over 6:1; but it is regarded as a conservative estimate as only a sample of use cases have been quantified.
It is significant that in most of these initiatives the council did not need to look for external sources of data, but found new uses for datasets it already held. A key factor was the ability to link them using the UPRN and USRN to pinpoint gaps in revenue or where a service was not being delivered.
Local authorities using the identifiers are well placed to find similar benefits, while taking into account a handful of other factors.
These include an appreciation of the value of the LLPG and LSG, their local address and street custodians, and street naming and numbering officers. The former provide a central source of address and street intelligence in their areas and ensure the data complies with national standards; while the latter channel intelligence from a range of sources to the custodians so the information is recorded quickly and accurately.
GIS teams are also important and should be regarded as an active part of day-to-day operations and potential innovators in exploring the use of location data.
This should be accompanied by efforts to raise the levels of data literacy throughout the workforce, encouraging all employees to ask questions based on data, and to think about how it can be used in for insights, to improve collaborative working and the user experience for the public.
It is also important to make the benefits of location data unavoidable and irresistible to employees, showing how it can help to solve problems, make their work easier and raise the quality of services. This involves a plan to communicate with decision makers in a way that helps them understand the benefits, and remaining flexible about the way solutions are provided.
Next month there will be an opportunity to learn more about all this. The Local Government Association (LGA), in association with GeoPlace, is staging a webinar on how councils can make more use of the pool of data at their disposal, using location information as the crucial link to obtain insights and improve efficiency.
It will involve contributions from Juliet Whitworth, head of research and information at the LGA, Dr Catherine Howe, chief executive at Adur and Worthing District Councils, Peter Fleming OBE, former leader of Sevenoaks District and former chair of the LGA Improvement and Innovation Board, and Nick Chapallaz, managing director of GeoPlace.
Taking place on Zoom from 11.00-12.15 on Thursday 7 December, it is aimed primarily at local authority officers with responsibility for transformation, digital or data, but is open to all employees of councils and government departments free of charge.
The event will provide an appreciation of how to use location data, the value it can provide for a council, and practical steps to drive improvements and transformation. After it takes place attendees will be sent a briefing pack with a personalised data integration report to help them understand how well their authority is already making use of its data.
It is a great opportunity that should not be missed. You can find more information and reserve a place at the event here.