[OKFN-EN] Outcome of the UK Cabinet Office "Hack for Early Intervention"

Gianfranco Cecconi gianfranco.cecconi at digitalcontraptionsimaginarium.co.uk
Thu Mar 27 07:25:07 UTC 2014

I have spent the last three days participating to the Cabinet Office's "Hack for Early Intervention", organised for them by Rewired State. The objective was supporting Local Authority Commissioners change their approach to budgeting for social intervention, pushing the moment of action to when the problems can still be prevented rather than managing the crisis later.

Open data was king as you may have expected, and I was very vocal during the first day - together with Spend Network's Ian Makgill (https://spendnetwork.com) who was there as a subject matter expert - to educate the few participants who were new to the concept. 

At the centre of attention was a very interesting Government open dataset I was not aware of: the "(social intervention) unit cost database", listing the cost to the public administration of items such as one year of Job Seeker's Allowance, the annual cost to the NHS of alcohol dependency, per year per dependent drinker etc.. If you can cope with the idea of thinking of people in difficulty in terms of figures in a balance sheet, the tool is great for building business cases for social intervention and Social Impact Bonds (or SIBs, http://data.gov.uk/sib_knowledge_box/). The database is supposedly released under OGL but you won't find references to it if you downloaded it today (surprised?).

You can find my open notes from the first, "ideation" day at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1JRz0d8Cr9aRFUqm7kxMtvwqBOdQbSTm9859jxEZ0Sl0/edit?usp=sharing . The list of projects developed for the hackathon is at http://hacks.rewiredstate.org/events/hack_for_early_intervention . 

My contribution was the "LASI" project: a platform for LA Commissioners to work collaboratively rather than in isolation. Together with my team, we addressed one issue in particular: the way Local Authority budget is administered makes Commissioners only responsible for social issues that "end" in their Local Authority, but not for the ones that "start" there. Using open data from the Census 2011, the unit cost database and other sources such as open data issued by non-profit (e.g. Shelter for homelessness http://england.shelter.org.uk/professional_resources/housing_databank ) we created an "observatory" for LA Commissioners to:
- check the status of their LAs vs "issues that move" (homelessness, domestic violence...) 
- forecast that migration, e.g. from the less to the more wealthy towns and counties, and
- hopefully, work together to intervene early and either prevent the move, or prepare to welcome these people in need.

In theory, all projects are (C) Cabinet Office (it was a condition we had to accept to participate) until we get a formal weaver. They told us this was necessary in case we used Government proprietary / confidential data, but this was not the case for any of the projects in the end. 

Let me know if you want to know more.


Gianfranco Cecconi

Digital Contraptions Imaginarium Ltd.
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Email: gianfranco at dico.im
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