Darlington is a market town in the North East of England and has been an important centre for railway manufacturing. It is well known for the first public passenger railway in the world which opened in 1825. Engineering still forms an important part of the industrial base alongside a thriving call centre industry. As a unitary Council it is responsible for delivering the full range of local government services for local people. In doing so it has recognised the importance of having a clear understanding of local need, whilst working in partnership with other organisations – whether in relation to education, housing, transport, crime, health or other services.
The Council has long recognised the importance of local information as David Goodchild, Information and Analysis Manager at the council explains. “For a number of years part of my corporate role was trying to make the best use of myriad sets of data and encouraging others to do the same. This was successful but at the same time we recognised we needed to do more,” he says.
The Council was granted funding by the Local Government Association under the Customer Led Transformation Fund, for a project focusing on families with multiple needs. The intention was to collate a range of data, thereby facilitating prevention activities and early intervention in families. A local information system (LIS) was seen as being best able to provide ready access to a wide range of data, and be capable of development over a relatively long time period.