Oxfordshire County Council and Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue Service

9th June 2020
Esri UK

Oxfordshire County Council and Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue Service

With its diverse and varied population, Oxfordshire County Council aims to provide excellent services to all its residents while promoting equality and ensuring fairness. For the Council to succeed, it is working towards attaining a diverse workforce that has an awareness and understanding of the diversity and needs of all its communities, supporting its position as a Stonewall Diversity Champion.

Secure, anonymous data collection helps the Council understand the effectiveness of its services being delivered to diverse communities.

Mobile apps increase efficiency of field reporting and streamline back-office administration processes.

Enhanced reporting through dashboards make findings easy to analyse and act upon

The Challenge

Oxfordshire County Council’s GIS (Geographic Information Systems) team has an extremely broad brief to provide ICT support across the organisation, including Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire & Rescue Service. This small team assesses requirements and requests, gathers business analysis and provides user support while building interactive dashboards and web and mobile apps for internal and external use.

Fire prevention is a core function of the Fire & Rescue Service and is the way in which the Council reduces demand on its services and helps to protect its residents. Safe and Well visits are a key part of prevention work, where firefighters make visits to vulnerable residents to decrease the risk of fire in their homes.

Previously, assessment data obtained during home visits had been recorded straight onto spreadsheets, an unwieldy and time-consuming process. This also created a challenge for safeguarding purposes: LGTBQ+ data needs to be collected anonymously ensuring that individuals are not identifiable by tracking down their responses to different questions.

Furthermore, vulnerable individuals, particularly the elderly, often find it difficult to talk about their gender. A more sophisticated but simple-to-use self-service digital approach was needed, ensuring complete anonymity, while giving the Council the data it requires to ensure the services it provides to its residents is inclusive to those of all identities and sexual orientations.

“For anyone who is looking to gather metrics on the sort of communities they have and are providing services for, ArcGIS is a fantastic platform to work with, providing a secure environment for reporting and apps that protect anonymity.”
Jo Ellis, Service Delivery Officer, Oxfordshire County Council

The Solution

Under its Enterprise Licence Agreement, Oxfordshire County Council has been using Esri’s ArcGIS platform exclusively since 2017 as its corporate GIS infrastructure. This has enabled the GIS team to build out a greater number of requirements, more quickly and efficiently, and help transform service delivery.

In March 2019 the Safe and Well service went digital. Workforce for ArcGIS was used to coordinate and allocate daily visits before crews left their stations and questionnaires incorporating broader health messages from the public health team were built using Survey123 for ArcGIS. The electronic forms were filled in onsite at residents’ homes and when there was no signal or internet available, users could carry on working and save a copy of the form on their mobile device. When the devices were next connected, completed surveys were synced directly back to the database in the office so colleagues could see which assessments had been undertaken, and the data visible on a central management dashboard.

The GIS team identified the opportunity to redesign the service so that fire crews could capture information on the demographics of their service users and capture this anonymously. A separate questionnaire from the Safe & Well form was created with Survey123, for vulnerable residents to fill out themselves during their visit using the firefighter’s device. This form now collects information on age, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Three back-end reporting apps have also been built:

The Safe & Well Administration app: an overall map view of survey outputs enabling the business support team to easily manage tasks, query datasets and export visit information requested by managers.

Equal Opportunities app: an interactive dashboard showing the output from anonymised data collected separately to the core Safe & Well questionnaire, relating to Equal Opportunities. Users can check whether the service is being accessed by diverse groups and see how different groups rate the service to ensure the Council is meeting their needs.

Safe & Well reporting app: instantly shows key statistics and data from Safe and Well visits for central reporting to senior management, with no processing time required.

“Our increasingly effective use of GIS supports so many of the Council’s services and, vitally, now helps us to understand whether these services are meeting the needs of all our communities.”
Anne Kearsley, GIS Manager, Oxfordshire County Council


Supporting Diversity
The redesigned service demonstrates Oxfordshire County Council’s responsibility as a Stonewall Diversity Champion, committed to sexual orientation and gender identify equality. In its second year of inclusion the Council now ranks at 127 (out of 503 organisations) in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index, compared to its previous ranking at 220 out of 445.

Secure data collection
Users can confidently collect anonymous data, securely, enabling the Council to collect vital information which ensures that the service it provides residents is inclusive to those of all identities and orientations, as well as help the organisation climb the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index.

Saving time
The use of ArcGIS apps has significantly enhanced the efficiency of reporting in the field as well as back in the office. Firefighters making home visits report that the quality of their visits and range of services offered has improved, and they feel more confident and competent in carrying out their work. The administration process has also been streamlined as admin staff no longer have to input data collected from paper-based surveys, reducing the potential for human error.

Improved reporting
Performance and productivity figures are now displayed in dashboard format which makes them easy to analyse for day-to-day management and reporting purposes, and reports can easily be shared upwards to the Senior Leadership Team as required.

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