Headlines: March 19th, 2012

Public services should adopt the Tesco Clubcard approach and give iPads’ to all frontline staff to close the data gap which causes costly mistakes.

A report on the Government’s use of data published by the think tank Demos recommends that all frontline public sector staff, such as social workers, police and health visitors should have ‘smart phone or iPad-style’ data stores that can keep track of service users and their specific needs.

The report argues that constantly updated information on at-risk families could prevent costly mistakes. An encrypted data-base combining health and social care services could target intervention by social and health workers, it could prevent overlap of provision and limit abuses of the system.

The value of joining-up services is incredibly high. It could help in keeping track of frequent truants, or recognising that a child has had unusually frequent trips to the doctor. It could avoid another Baby P scenario.

Almost 20 years after customer loyalty cards became commonplace on the high street, the report argues that Government has failed to keep up. It points out that while over 16 million people hand over valuable personal information every day with their Tesco Clubcards or Sainsbury’s and Homebase Nectar cards, Government has no equivalent method of quickly capturing everyday data.

Demos recommends the adoption of pilot projects modelled on a successful scheme in Berlin, which gives civil servants access to databases when visiting care homes for the elderly and hospitals in deprived areas.