Kent County Council has reduced its reliance on paper records for crime detection by developing a website to share information between the police and other emergency services.
The site, called Crime and Disorder Data Information Exchange (Caddie), collates information collected by the police, fire and ambulance services.
It has been running for just over a year and currently holds 750,000 records about crimes and incidents involving the emergency services.
The Caddie system was originally developed by Sussex Council. Kent's site cost about £140,000 to develop and includes an address database of citizens involved in emergency services incidents.
Sussex Council's Caddie system was built by Infotech using software from Infoshare to match addresses and names to incident numbers and highlight potential errors or duplications.
Infoshare's Omnidata matching process uses a variety of techniques and "rules" to overcome abbreviations, misspelt words and hyphenations.
When information is passed between agencies in the council, names are omitted to comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act.
Nick Moon, project manager for Kent Caddie at the Community Safety Unit of Social Services, said, "We realised that such a system would support our vision for sharing sensitive data and enhance our service provision in the field of crime and disorder."
The Community Safety Unit began the project in 2003, when it started negotiations with its 13 crime and disorder reduction partnerships (CDRPs) which were trying to share data by traditional manual methods.
"It is amazing how quickly and easily the project got off the ground - about a year start to finish," said Moon.
Moon also said Caddie had helped emergency services, particularly the police, to pinpoint crime hotspots.
"Kent Caddie satisfies our need for data sharing across agencies which are key for community safety, as we are able to analyse the whole issue, not just the sum of its parts," he said.
"By being able to combine data from a range of services in Kent, it gives us a much more accurate picture of what is going on, so we can make better strategic and proactive decisions on resource allocation."
One hurdle the project faced was the concern of some council staff at CDRPs that the website would create more work. "Due to the automation of data validation and depersonalisation it is estimated that Kent Caddie will cut the time CDRP intelligence analysts spend on data manipulation by 80% as they no longer have to deal with so much raw data," Moon said.
In future, more data sets will be added, such as from the Youth Offending and Probation Service, the Drug and Alcohol Action Team and other Kent County Council agencies such as education, he added.