Smart projects: Hammersmith and Fulham completes five-year data matching project
The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham is ready for the future introduction of smartcards for accessing public services, after spending five years matching customer information held on seven different databases.
The council has spent £900,000 matching data held across 450,000 records to enable its new customer database to retrieve information from legacy systems. The IT department created its own data-matching standard to maximise the proportion of records that were automatically matched.
A council spokesman said, "Once extracts from all the back-office systems had been signed off and agreed, the project moved on to defining the match rules that would enable customer information to be matched across all systems. Given the complexity, it was a time-consuming process to find a standard that met our matching quality requirements."
More than 100,000 of the 450,000 records were automatically matched once a standard was agreed.
The records covered most of Hammersmith and Fulham's front-line services. When the work was completed, every customer record covering council tax, council tax benefits, electoral services, housing benefits, housing rents, libraries, local land and property gazetteer and social services was accessible through the new database.
Council officers used a data matching and integration application called Multivue from software supplier Visionware. Microsoft's Biztalk integration software was also used to transform the council's data.
The new database, known as the Client Index, is set up to notify all seven legacy databases when a customer's information changes.
Client Index checks the records held on the underlying databases for changes every night. In the future, the council plans to adapt Client Index to perform hourly checks.
The council said, "The database will enable us to build an accurate customer profile of their key demographics and enable us to identify which services they were receiving from the council.
"It also means that the customer only has to notify the council once, rather than separately contacting the various departments."
Client Index is designed to look for changes to key customer details. These include changes of address, registration of death, change of name, change of date of birth or age, change of a key reference number, such as a national insurance number, and the conclusion of using any service.
The IT department has developed a Microsoft .net application to track changes to the back-office databases. The application, called Cinema, enables the IT department to spot whether changes have been rejected by the systems.
Client Index is currently identifying 1,000 changes of customer details during every overnight run. By changing records on all the underlying databases at the same time, the council believes that costs have been cut.
Hammersmith and Fulham plans to integrate Client Index with its customer relationship management application, Lagan Frontline, later this year.
This was first published in March 2006