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Wigan Borough Partnership delivers better intelligence with WISDOM


Wigan Borough Partnership is the local strategic partnership (LSP) for Wigan, which is made up of key public sector organisations including Wigan Council, Ashton Leigh and Wigan Primary Care Trust, Wigan and Leigh Housing and Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust. The LSP partners needed a robust evidence base to support a number of initiatives including the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, the Sustainable Communities Strategy, Joint Public Health Strategy (Living Well in Wigan), strategic commissioning, the Local Area Agreement and local level delivery plans.

In addition, it was recognised that there was a need to provide local intelligence for the newly created Single Commissioning Agency for Health and Wellbeing, a partnership between Wigan Council and the Primary Care Trust.

The partners also realised they weren’t sharing data efficiently or effectively and that as a result it was difficult to create a clear and accurate picture of what was happening in the borough. Data was held in a number of different systems which meant there was no way to gather information from all the partners.

In 2006 a borough-wide Smart Neighbourhoods programme - and in particular a one-off project called 400 babies - had shown how data could be consolidated and presented in a meaningful way. The 400 babies project followed the prospects of 200 babies born in the most deprived areas of the borough and compared them with 200 babies born in the most affluent. It looked at everything from education through to life expectancy. Having seen how the 400 babies project had worked the LSP partners with a lead taken by the Council and Primary Care Trust started to develop Wigan Information System of Dynamic Online Maps.

Meeting the need

The LSP team, led by Steve Lyon, Insight Manager, decided to carry out an appraisal of Local Information Systems (LIS) that could be used for WISDOM. They reviewed best practice, attended LIS events, joined LIS forums to help them develop essential and desirable criteria. A report was compiled for senior management teams and the decision was made to go with InstantAtlas Server (IAS). They felt that IAS had the edge because it was accessible, user-friendly, customisable, offered good software support for quick implementation and was cost-effective.

Making the project work

The partners appointed a project coordinator to oversee the development of WISDOM. In addition, a WISDOM board made up of senior managers from each LSP core partner, was set up to govern the project.

Analysts from different organisations started to work in a virtual office environment and a close working relationship with GeoWise developed. This ensured the project took only four months to get off the ground. WISDOM went live to LSP partners in June 2008 and is now moving to allow much greater public access.

WISDOM local strategic partnership site

Key benefits

The partners carried out a survey of users and found that the largest single group was middle and senior management, rather than operation level staff. This reflects the fact that from the start WISDOM had good buy in from senior management. The management team is continuing to drive strategic direction and a Joint Intelligence Unit (JIU) is currently being developed to support the intelligence agenda across the LSP. The WISDOM board has transformed into the Strategic Intelligence Board and now plays a much more important role in the LSP partnership.

  • Greater efficiency and effectiveness achieved by:

    • reduced duplication of effort
    • shifting focus from collecting data to analysing it
    • reduction in the amount of time spent compiling static reports
    • reduced number of adhoc requests for data analysis

  • There is ongoing support from the team at InstantAtlas and the InstantAtlas User Group
  • A shared understanding of available intelligence leading to improved partnership working.
  • Development of meaningful intelligence, bringing data to life.
  • Better support for integrated needs assessment.

Users of WISDOM are not just analysts, they come from a broad range of disciplines.

Wigan’s close working relationship with GeoWise has continued to develop and it has played a key role in the creation of the InstantAtlas LIS User Group, the first meeting of which was held in Wigan in April 2010. This is an open forum for discussion on the LIS agenda, but with a focus specifically around the InstantAtlas product.

Jonathan Caunce, Intelligence Analyst says: “InstantAtlas has been instrumental in helping us show what the LSP partners can do with all their data and by helping to obtain buy in from senior management. The InstantAtlas Server Modules provided flexibility so we could really determine what we wanted, rather than being constrained by the features of a single product.”

Want to learn more about Local Information Systems for your local authority? - click here

Other InstantAtlas local authority stories and reports that will interest you

Rochdale Borough Council - Empowering local communities to make better decisions

Cumbria Intelligence Observatory - Bringing consistency to statutory assessment through online data visualisation

Coventry City Council - ‘Developing a centralised information hub that gives LSP partners the intelligence they need’

Wolverhampton in Profile - How Wolverhampton’s Local Information System is driving consistency of data use and helping deliver evidence-based strategic planning

Trafford Council - Helping local communities in Trafford represent themselves and highlight their needs using an online interactive data hub - Watch Trafford's IAUC 2012 presentation

Staffordshire Data Observatory - Giving local strategic partners the data they need to make commissioning decisions in a customisable format

Liverpool PCT - How Liverpool PCT is using data presentation to improve access to its Joint Strategic Needs Assessment

Greater Merseyside Connexions Partnership - How data presentation is helping Connexions get a better understanding of hotspots for youth unemployment and training needs

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News and Articles


Arizona Department of Health Services | ‘Making data presentation meaningful when dealing with low rates of population density’


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Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) – ”How the Pan American Health Organization is using data presentation to aid the policy-making process”