West Sussex County Council, in collaboration with NHS partners and District Council partners, were tasked with planning an exercise to roll out a surge testing campaign to identify a COVID-19 variant of concern. This was to be conducted across a random area defined by Public Health England. The aim of this exercise was to establish how agencies with different working practices could come together quickly and efficiently. Such collaborative working would be critical in the event that such an exercise actually needed to be implemented at short notice.
As soon as the area was defined by PHE, West Sussex County Council needed to move with speed and accuracy in tandem with the partner organisations, to ensure the success of the campaign. Key to this is a detailed knowledge and understanding of the communities within the defined area. The reports function of Local Insight ensured WSCC was able to detail any area requested at the click of a button, and share this data with NHS and District Council partners.
Knowing the age profile of an area, the predominant religion and ethnicity, alongside languages spoken, cultural differences and even economic profile, would ensure that any communication could be targeted appropriately, and that cultural expectations and sensitivities could be mitigated for. In short, the better the understanding of a community, the better the chances of a successful testing programme. Building a comprehensive picture of the different communities enables targeted publicity and communication campaigns in each particular community. It would ensure too, that people operating on the ground would be able to meet the different needs of each of the communities they would need to work with.
The reports function of Local Insight enabled West Sussex County Council to define an area and then, at the click of a button, generate a report that provided all this information and more using the best and most up-to-date data available. This information was available to West Sussex County Council within minutes. What traditionally may have taken a day to pull together, if not more, is available instantly. Not only can the data be pulled together in an instant, but the source for each statistic is available, and because the data is open source data it can be shared and reproduced with PHE and any other third parties.
In practical terms this meant that West Sussex County Council knew the make-up of the communities they would need to work with in advance. Bespoke publicity campaigns could be prepared for each community and a one-size-fits-all approach could be avoided.
When speed and accuracy are key to the success of a project, alongside confidence in the data, the reports from Local Insight provide the evidence and accuracy that a project requires. West Sussex County Council have found the reports invaluable as key assets in the design of the testing programme and have shared the documents widely across their partners organisations and PHE.
This is a great example of the power of Local Insight to really add value in unexpected ways to local government projects, and it provides more evidence of the importance of local data being made accessible to all people across any organisation.