Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council and its partners in the Greater Manchester area are using a geographical information system (GIS) to target services at the people that would most benefit from them.
Council officers and people working for other groups delivering services can correlate multiple sources of data with detailed maps of Rochdale.
The Rochdale and Oldham Housing Market Renewal project is measuring the effectiveness of housing renewal in the area using the application. It looks at GCSE pass rates and children's performance at Key Stage 2 in the areas that are being renewed.
The project managers hope that both indicators will improve over time as the condition of local housing gets better.
Rochdale's social services department is using the tool to target its spending at young children in the most deprived parts of the town.
Council officers were able to target individual streets or housing estates by comparing the distribution of children under four years of age with levels of deprivation.
Users were able to compare one set of data with another after the council upgraded its two-year-old GIS application earlier this year.
Before the upgrade, council officers could look at one indicator, such as GCSE pass rates, but they were unable to compare it with another, such as the condition of housing.
Rochdale is using a customised GIS application from software supplier Aligned Assets.
The supplier spent 13 months customising the application after it received Rochdale's specifications. The application uses the .net framework and Spatialware for SQL Server as its database.
The mapping interface has been created using the latest version of Mapxtreme from supplier MapInfo. Vector Markup Language is used to run the maps.
The application is hosted on two dual processor Xeon-based HP servers running Windows 2000 Server. The mapping part of the application is held on one server and the Spatialware database is hosted on another server that sits behind a second firewall.
Rochdale said, "The project was well underway before certain aspects of the security architecture could be expressed and may have delayed implementation slightly.
"We have learned from this how important it is to build in security from the initial stages of development."
The council has outsourced its back-office services to Agilisys as part of a 15-year, £200m contract with Mouchel Parkman that also covers property management.
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