The London Borough of Camden is using IBM big data analytics to create a database that consolidates residents' data to reduce fraud and costs.
The Residents Index database draws on the big data and analytics technology in IBM's InfoSphere Platform, which provides data warehousing, management and governance.
Camden Council can use the database to pull together residents' data from various parts of the organisation, such as electoral, housing and council tax services.
The council can then use IBM's predictive and investigative analytics to get a single view of all its residents' data and spot anomalies where, for example, a person is registered at more than one address.
Camden can use this to find data entry errors and uncover data points indicating fraudulent activity, such as illegal subletting or deceptive school admissions.
The Residents Index meets the council's data protection requirements, and can provide the borough's social care agencies with the information they need to identify vulnerable people, such as children, quickly and efficiently.
Camden councillor Theo Blackwell explained that access to residential big data in changing the way the borough saves money and prevents illegal activity in the face of funding cuts.
"Take school admission fraud. Parents complain about people gaming the system by pretending to reside in the borough to get their kids into the most sought-after schools," he said.
"Now with the Residents Index in place, council staff can carry out detailed checks and identify previously hidden discrepancies in the information supplied to the council to prove residency.
"The Resident Index has proved its worth in helping the council to become more efficient, and now contains over one million relevant records.
"This is just one example, and we have other plans to use the benefits of data technology to improve public services and balance the books."
The Residents Index uses a robust governance framework provided by IBM to keep in line with public sector data compliance rules.
This ensures that residents' information is gathered, stored and managed in a safe way across key systems in 16 London locations. A permissions system makes sure that council workers have access only to data they are authorised to use.
IBM is taking its data analytics technology out of the lab and into the world, and recently used Watson Analytics to grind big data in unmanned coffee shops.
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