Mike Soper gets his teeth into Insight
Before putting together a website like Cambridgeshire Insight we have to challenge ourselves as to why we are doing it? One glance at Cambridgeshire County Council’s Business Plan will show you that the organisation needs to save £35 million next year and a further £145 million over the next five years. But whilst those stark numbers provide a backdrop against which to challenge all our expenditure they also provide a reason why research and insight are more important than ever.
As a starter, we must understand that the financial savings challenge that the public sector faces is far too great to be achieved by ‘belt tightening’ alone. Services need to be radically altered or redesigned. The first step towards achieving this is to understand at what the future demand for services will be. The published Cambridgeshire Insight material and accompanying visualisation for population forecasts, pupil projections and economic forecasts are invaluable for doing this.
The main course is the site philosophy. All the content has already been commissioned for a specific business purpose. However, the ‘Insight’ approach is to share and reuse this as much as possible so we can squeeze the maximum value out of our work. By crossing partnership boundaries in this way Cambridgeshire Insight draws people together in a shared understanding of the County thus paving the way to meeting the tough challenges we all face. The Community Safety research focusing on the victims of crime is a prime example of this. The shared Victim and Offender Needs Assessment paved the way for the commissioning of service for victims. Material on the site also identifies future demand for affordable housing and through the JSNA content future demands on our health and social cares services.
The sweetener or ‘pudding’ if you like is that by existing, Cambridgeshire Insight helps the public sector save money. During a recent discussion with a district council colleague he said that “we don’t invest in that [private sector information system] anymore because we can get it for free from Cambridgeshire Insight”. So as the message ‘It’s on Insight’ spreads, organisations are much more confident about disinvesting in what are seen as back-office policy jobs with the understanding that whoever is left can find all the information they need to do their job much easier and quicker than before.
Head of the Research & Performance Team
Cambridgeshire County Council