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Wirral Council set to deploy Microsoft Fabric data platform

The platform, which is being developed in collaboration with Simpson Associates, will be used to aid decision-making and improve operations

Wirral Council has begun work on using Microsoft Fabric as its data platform, in a bid to deliver machine learning and advanced data analytics for council services, operations and planning.

The council is one of the five metropolitan boroughs in Merseyside, and is responsible for delivering most local government services.

The data platform will be used to help the council with early intervention and forecasting future demand. The initial focus will be developing several proof-of-concept applications to explore how Microsoft Fabric could be used, such as forecasting trends to anticipate increased demand upon council-provided services.

Vikki Chapman, ICT digital solutions manager at Wirral Council, said the project is incredibly important for the council. “It will give us the ability to proactively identify and deliver early preventative measures and support our planning for the future,” she said.

To support the project, the council selected Simpson Associates, a data analytics consultancy and managed service provider which specialises in identifying and supporting local authorities’ data and insights projects.

A data fabric is seen by industry experts as a modern approach to enabling organisations to integrate data silos in a consistent way.

Microsoft launched Fabric during its Build 2023 annual developer conference. It’s positioned as an all-in-one analytics platform for enterprises, which, according to Microsoft, provides data movement, real-time analytics and business intelligence.

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  • Without human-generated training data, AI systems malfunction. This could be a problem if the internet becomes flooded with AI-generated content.
  • Combining different types of simulation models with predictive analytics enables organisations to forecast events and improve the accuracy of data-driven decisions.

Fabric is available as a software-as-a-service product, and provides integrated services for data lakes, data engineering and data integration. Microsoft positioned it as a product that brings together new and existing components from Power BI, Azure Synapse and Azure Data Factory into a single integrated environment.

Simpson Associates said the initial stages of the project will involve working with the council to build up in-house skills and capabilities in the areas of machine learning using synthetic data. According to Simpson Associates, this part of the project will be used to help the technical team at Wirral understand the machine learning development process and gain a better understanding of the stages involved in an artificial intelligence project.

Among the areas the council’s team will be looking at is whether performance risks can be used to predict when early intervention will be needed. Simpson Associates said machine learning will then be used to identify core drivers of negative outcomes and define potential mitigation strategies to minimise the impact.

The council plans to collaborate with Simpson Associates on developing a predictive model to forecast future service demand.

The model is expected to take into account potential shifts in demographics and characteristics over time, which Simpson Associates said would enhance Wirral’s ability to strategically plan and allocate resources effectively. Other predictive models will also play a role in Wirral’s funding and resource allocation decision-making.

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