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Information Ethics and Transparency Charter

Information Ethics and Transparency Charter Toggle accordion

1. Introduction and Principles


We use information about residents in different ways to improve the services we provide. This is known as data analytics. We bring together information from a range of services and sometimes partner organisations to understand more about the needs of those living in the borough.

Sometimes we combine information from the services which residents use to create a ‘single view’ of a person and/or a family on to one system.

Using our resident’s information in this way is important to us because we want to:

 

  • Make sure we can support residents in the right way.
  • Identify households that are becoming more vulnerable so we can offer support at an earlier stage to help them. This is known as predictive analytics.
  • Help residents with more than one issue at the same time.
  • Save time by reducing the need for residents to explain their circumstances repeatedly.
  • Improve the way our services are designed and are delivered to our residents.
  • Fulfill our legal duty to find ways to prevent a resident’s needs from worsening, by identifying them and supporting at the earliest possible stage.

We are, at all times, compliant with data protection legislation such as the Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). This Charter is to illustrate our commitment and additional actions above and beyond what is legally required.

2. Ethics

We are committed to the ethical use of our resident’s data. This applies to the way we receive it, the way we use it and the way we share it:

 

  • The decisions we make about resident’s situation are always made by a human being and are never automated.
  • There are no blanket decisions applied to a resident’s situation, each resident is treated individually, and their response tailored accordingly.
  • There is a legal basis in line with data protection legislation for everything we do with information about our residents. This includes sharing data across our systems, and the use of data analytics including predictive analytics.
  • We do not share resident’s information outside of the council unless we are required to by law or for specific reasons to trusted partners (e.g. schools). This will only be done to fulfil our duties to work with partners to prevent harm to our residents. We never sell resident's information to outside agencies.
  • Where data is used to create a single view of a person or household, council staff can only see the relevant level of information which is absolutely necessary for them to do their job.
  • We are fully signed up to the Local Government Ethical Standards which the government put in place to make sure the integrity of decision making is protected, that public confidence is maintained, and that local democracy is safeguarded.
  • We have developed a Data Ethics Workbook which addresses the principles of data ethics, staff can use this to support them with questions around the efficacy of the use of data.

3. Transparency

Being transparent about all elements of data use in data analytics and predictive analytics is hugely important to us, because how we manage the use of information is critical to the relationship of trust we have with our residents. We understand that a lack of transparency can often be perceived as a lack of ethics, and this is why we have been proactive in seeking independent review of our use of data for predictive analytics.

Based on our commitment to transparency we have put the following things in place to make sure what we do is open and the reasons why we do it are clear:

  • We have actively sought external review of our use of data analytics by independent organisations including Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation.
  • Where applicable we engage with the Information Commissioner’s Office to seek advice.
  • The Information Ethics & Transparency Charter is our attempt to separate the specific use of data analytics and emerging technologies to that of the day to day use of information in the council.
  • The mathematical process used to facilitate predictive analytics are measured for accuracy on a monthly basis, and the results used for continuous improvement in the system.
  • We have a regularly refreshed Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) in place for the use of data analytics. This is publicly available on our website.
  • We choose to publish a lot of useful information on our Borough Data Explorer Platform which does not come under data privacy restrictions because it is ‘open data’ which is anonymous.
  • We actively promote our work at various conferences and webinars, so others can see what we are up to.
  • We are a member of the Local Government Association Predictive Analytics Forum which provides guidance to local government on predictive analytics data use.
  • We have invited the Big Data and Analytics Unit (BDAU) based within Imperial
  • College London to publish a case study on our use of predictive analytics.
  • We have set up management structures within the council to oversee the use of data in predictive analytics, including forums such as the Data Ethics Sub-Group, Information Governance Group and Customer Information Board to fulfil this function.

What is the purpose of the Information Ethics and Transparency Charter? Toggle accordion

The Information Ethics and Transparency Charter is our way of being open about how and why we collect information about our residents, how we share it and what we do with it.  We are committed to being open and transparent about this because it is important to us that we build a relationship of trust with our residents.  We believe that if we are transparent about what we do with our resident's information, they will understand and trust that we are using it to improve outcomes for those living in Barking and Dagenham.

What are predictive analytics? Toggle accordion

Predictive analytics is a set of statistical techniques including data mining and predictive modelling that uses current and historical information to make predictions about future or otherwise unknown events.

We use predictive analytics by bringing together your information from the services with which you engage to create a ‘single view’ of you and/or your family – on one system.  We do this to identify households that are becoming more vulnerable, so we can help at an earlier stage. The law places a duty on councils to find ways to prevent people’s needs from getting worse by identifying and supporting earlier. Predictive analytics is used in a limited number of ways by the council, but we mainly use it to prevent circumstances from getting more difficult for our residents.

For example, by using data we can better understand the circumstances that lead to someone becoming homeless because of debt. In this way we can proactively offer help and support to address debt problems before there is a risk of homelessness.

This technique also helps to save frontline professionals time (they do not need to look in different systems to understand your circumstances) and you do not have to explain your circumstances repeatedly – it helps us to better understand your specific needs to ensure we are supporting you in the right way.

What Data Do We Use?

Data from the following services is brought together to form a ‘single view’ of a person, or a household which we use to support our resident’s needs at an earlier stage:

  1. Revenues and Benefits: Council Tax; Housing Benefit; Free School Meals and Debt
  2. Housing: Homes and Money Hub; Tenancy Sustainment; Accommodation and Temporary Accommodation; Homelessness Prevention; Social Housing Register / Single Point of Access
  3. Adult’s Care and Support: Adults: Intake team, Extended Intake team and Locality teams
  4. Children’s Care and Support: Early Help; Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub; Extended Intake Team

For each of these four service areas we generally use the following data fields:

  • Name and personal details
  • Address and property details
  • Case related information

No decisions about an individual are solely made based on characteristics protected under the Equalities Act 2010. In many cases we do not collect this information. Where used, protected characteristics may be used to monitor inequalities to prevent bias and discrimination.  

Although this information is available to all the above services, specific access permissions are in place for different roles.  This means that council staff can only see the information that is relevant for them to do their job.

How and why do you use resident's information in this way? Toggle accordion

We use information about residents in different ways to improve the services we provide.  This is known as data analytics.  We bring together information from a range of services and sometimes partner organisations to understand more about the needs of those living in the borough.  Sometimes we combine information from the services which residents use to create a ‘single view’ of a person and/or a family on to one system. Using our resident’s information in this way is important to us because we want to

  • Make sure we can support residents in the right way.
  • Identify households that are becoming more vulnerable so we can offer support at an earlier stage to help them. This is known as predictive analytics.
  • Help residents with more than one issue at the same time.
  • Save time by reducing the need for residents to explain their circumstances repeatedly.
  • Improve the way our services are designed and are delivered to our residents.
  • Fulfil our legal duty to find ways to prevent a resident’s needs from worsening, by identifying them and supporting at the earliest possible stage.

Are you legally allowed to share my information with other service areas in the council? Toggle accordion

There is a legal basis in line with data protection legislation for everything we do with information about our residents.  This includes sharing data across our systems, and the use of data analytics including predictive analytics.

We are, at all times, compliant with data protection legislation such as the Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). This Charter illustrates our commitment to this, and the additional actions we are proactively undertaking that are above and beyond what is legally required. 

Do you give or sell my information to outside organisations? Toggle accordion

We do not share resident’s information outside of the council unless we are required to by law or for specific reasons to trusted partners (e.g. schools). This will only be done to fulfil our duties to work with partners to prevent harm to our residents. We never sell resident's information to outside agencies.

Based on the use of my information, how are the outcomes about me decided upon? Toggle accordion

Although data helps inform the decisions we make about a resident’s situation, the decisions themselves are always made by a human being and are never automated.  There are no blanket decisions applied to a resident’s situation, each resident is treated individually, and their response tailored accordingly.

Who has access to my information? Toggle accordion

Where data is used to create a single view of a person or household, council staff can only see the relevant level of information which is absolutely necessary for them to do their job.

What checks and balances do you have in place to make sure there is transparency around what you are doing? Toggle accordion

Being transparent about all elements of data use in data analytics and predictive analytics is hugely important to us, because how we manage the use of information is critical to the relationship of trust we have with our residents.  We understand that a lack of transparency can often be perceived as a lack of ethics, and this is why we have been proactive in seeking independent review of our use of data for predictive analytics.

Based on our commitment to transparency we have put the following things in place to make sure what we do is open and the reasons why we do it are clear.  

  • We have actively sought external review of our use of data analytics by independent organisations including Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation.  
  • Where applicable we engage with the Information Commissioner’s Office to seek advice. 
  • The Information Ethics & Transparency Charter is our attempt to separate the specific use of data analytics and emerging technologies to that of the day to day use of information in the council.
  • The mathematical process used to facilitate predictive analytics are measured for accuracy on a monthly basis, and the results used for continuous improvement in the system.
  • We have a regularly refreshed Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) in place for the use of data analytics.  This is publicly available on our website.
  • We choose to publish a lot of useful information on our Borough Data Explorer Platform which does not come under data privacy restrictions because it is ‘open data’ which is anonymous.
  • We actively promote our work at various conferences and webinars, so others can see what we are up to.
  • We are a member of the Local Government Association Predictive Analytics Forum which provides guidance to local government on predictive analytics data use.
  • We have invited the Big Data and Analytics Unit (BDAU) based within Imperial College London to publish a case study on our use of predictive analytics.
  • We have set up management structures within the council to oversee the use of data in predictive analytics, including forums such as the Data Ethics Sub-Group, Information Governance Group and Customer Information Board to fulfil this function.

Are there other examples that show your commitment to the ethical use of data in analytics and predictive analytics? Toggle accordion

  • We are fully signed up to the Local Government Ethical Standards which the government put in place to make sure the integrity of decision making is protected, that public confidence is maintained, and that local democracy is safeguarded.
  • We have developed a Data Ethics Workbook which addresses the principles of data ethics, staff can use this to support them with questions around the efficacy of the use of data. 
  • We follow the work of the AI and Public Standards Committee which promotes adherence to high public standards of AI in public service delivery.