08 Dec 2023
by Brendan Swarbrick

The impact of common data in crisis response and prevention in Criminal Justice

Digital and operational leaders across the Public Sector are increasingly focusing on how they can optimally utilise data at the organisational level. They aim to enhance service efficiency, accurately identify evolving needs, and enhance responses to complex demands through a more profound understanding.

The speed and accessibility that a Common Data Model provides has benefits at the organisational level. However, what is particularly thrilling when considering its application within public sector contexts, is the way this highly democratised method of structuring and visualising data can equip individual frontline staff with data and allow shared data across associated agencies.

Leveraging common data models and accurate visualiation to help in emergency situations

In many customer-facing services - particularly those we depend on each moment of every day, and every night all year round - 'shift changeover' poses a daily hurdle. In order to maintain a seamless service, large volumes of information need to be quickly transferred. The exchange requires a high degree of precision, at the start and close of each shift, round the clock, every day of the year. Any emergency services team commencing a shift will need to be prepared for emergency calls from the public. They will also be receiving briefings on other issues such as ongoing emergencies passed on from previous shifts, and will need to understand the resources at their disposal across the entire system to optimally support each incident on that specific day.

Case management systems in the public sector store a wealth of data. However, for those on the front-line who are juggling multiple complex situations, it is crucial to quickly obtain the necessary data and analysis in a user-friendly, standardised format. This information must be readily shared within their organisation for ongoing effort re-prioritisation in response to fluctuating demand.

Real world examples

In our collaboration with the Northern Ireland Prison Service, we created data visualisation tools which provide officers beginning their shifts with prompt access to the most recent data on the individuals in their care, presented in an easily digestible visual format. The use of these tools improves the prioritisation process, facilitates effective wing-level management, and improves the care and safety of those in custody. It offers an easily comprehensible view of crucial actionable data, accessible (with appropriate role-based access and privacy considerations) to those on the front-line supporting specific individuals, as well as those in the boardroom looking at the overall prison population.

Sopra Steria engineered an incredibly safe new control centre for Transport for London, giving a single consolidated perspective of all happenings on the city's road network. This includes current information on all known incidents and the steps being taken – providing a common data set across public and private transport providers, councils, emergency services, and the private providers informing your satnav. It is used to manage and plan national events as well as being a real-time tool allowing organisations to react and respond to incidents.

Imagine a unified data strategy for Criminal Justice and beyond

In Criminal Justice, autonomy among the different agencies involved is essential to ensure a safe conviction or to safeguard personal privacy. However, there are many situations where the ability to share relevant information securely, in near real-time, and following role-based access permissions would be invaluable for the public and individual protection and enhance responses to incidents.

The Institute for Government recently created the 'Doing Data Justice' report, arguing for a comprehensive data strategy across the Justice system. Imagine what could be done by building on such a strategy (and what could be prevented) if a secure Common Data Model was implemented within each Criminal Justice agency, enabling appropriate data exchange between them.

Imagine the potential to broaden the use of such a model across multi-agency partnerships with proper governance and consideration. This could include entities in the healthcare, education, and safeguarding sectors - organisations that Justice departments often collaborate with on the most sensitive cases. This could facilitate data exchange in the most crucial and challenging environments enhancing existing responses.

Read more about our work with the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) to transform and digitise core prison processes here.

Read more on how you can empower smarter states through a Common Data Model from the techUK smarter state campaign week here.

Read more on the value of a Common Data Model in enabling self-service analytics within highly secure environments here.

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Brendan Swarbrick

Brendan Swarbrick

Executive Client Director, Government Sector, Sopra Steria