How can data make your citizens happier?

Data issues are preventing local authorities from getting the full picture of their residents, and it’s creating problems that should be easy to avoid. So what’s stopping authorities from addressing these frustrations?

How well do you know your citizens?

Being able to see your citizens as people – not just names attached to a postcode – is key to creating a happy community. In our last blog of this series, we looked at some of the biggest frustrations residents experience when they engage with your authority – and how a single source of data could provide the answer.

So, why do local councils need this 'golden record'? If local authorities can succeed in establishing a single source of truth for each of their residents, it can bring significant benefits to how councils are managed, impacting everything from residents’ experience to local investments. Yet data issues are preventing local authorities from getting the full picture on their residents, and it’s creating problems that should be easy to avoid.

Here, we look at the data issues that might be causing the biggest frustrations for your citizens. By solving these issues, data can help local authorities connect with their residents, improve efficiency, and boost their social impact.

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What’s stopping local councils from addressing resident frustrations?

Data siloes

There’s no shortage of data in local authorities – the problem is that those vast volumes of data can’t always be accessed when and where they’re needed. Data is pocketed in different departments, on different systems, in different formats, making it impossible for information to flow easily between one council team and another. In some cases, authorities are still struggling to digitise paper records and advance beyond manual data reporting, making it harder to centralise complete, accurate records.

If one citizen's data points are scattered across the organisation – parking registrations here, environmental health complaints there – each department will see a fragment of the citizen they are dealing with, but none will have a full view of the person behind the data.

If local authorities want to make the ‘golden record’ a reality, they need to break down the barriers between these siloes and create a centralised source of data that every department can access.

Legacy technology

One of the biggest causes of those data siloes? Legacy technology. Old, out of date and disconnected system are preventing local councils from tackling their data problems and unifying their information into one source. In particular, that technology disconnect between departments is making it difficult to join the data dots, with incompatible on-premise software and systems both preventing access to data and making the idea of a technology upgrade a daunting prospect.


Speaking of daunting prospects, fear of migration to new digital processes has become a significant blocker for local councils. With so much personal information at stake, and such varied levels of digital competency across the organisation, there are a lot of ways that migrations can go wrong – but only if they aren’t handled correctly. Migrations don’t need to feel like a big, sudden upheaval if the right groundwork is in place, and the right support is provided. A successful migration starts by connecting your people with the data they use, addressing data governance, improving data quality and taking the right steps to seamlessly migrate every department to a new, central data solution (like an MDM platform).

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How can you achieve the ‘golden record’ for every citizen?

The only sure-fire way for local authorities to address their citizens’ frustrations is to establish a ‘golden record’ on every resident: one, centralised source of truth that can be accessed throughout the organisation. Yet getting your hands on the golden record isn’t as simple as buying the right software and plugging it in. First, you need to break down data siloes, address your data quality, put robust data governance in place, and tackle data literacy across the organisation. Then it’s a case of selecting the right technology for your needs and ensuring that everyone knows how to use it effectively.

If your citizens – and employees – are feeling the frustration of poor data management in your local authority, read our guide – Citizen Data 101 – to find out how data can help you to connect with residents, improve efficiency and boost your social impact.

Download | Citizen Data 101

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