Aberdeen City Council transforms social care services with cloud ‘ecosystem’
A Scottish council has worked with Microsoft to transform its social care services by designing a new ecosystem in the cloud.
Aberdeen City Council is using the US tech giant’s cloud platform, Dynamic 365, to drive a “cutting-edge” programme to upscale and redesign services for 230,000 people in the area.
The tool is being used to bring adult and children’s social care data and workflows together in one place, where staff will be able to record, share and analyse information with greater ease, supported by automation.
Previously, around 80 per cent of workloads were “off system”, but the new solution means all casework will be recorded through one simple portal, using Dynamics.
It has been designed by Aberdeen’s social workers for their colleagues to use – from the frontline to the back office.
The solution will help practitioners manage complex cases and make it easier to record case work and access high-quality and comprehensive data to support individuals, while partner agencies can also access the system and share information.
The future integration of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) will move the service from reactive to predictive care, allowing the council to allocate resources more effectively and spare families from crises through early intervention and prevention.
Andy MacDonald, the council’s director of customer services, said: “We understood that digital was the key to establishing innovative and integrated public services and were delighted to partner with Microsoft in creating bespoke solutions for our customers.
“We’ve used digital to promote community engagement, marshal data and develop our analytic capabilities, and to empower both staff and customers. That journey continues. Part of our task ahead is to guide people on their digital journey and use technology to further improve outcomes.
“For us, transformation is ultimately about building public services around the needs and strengths of individuals, families and communities.”
The solutions were part of a wider move of critical applications and data from on-site data centres to Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, which has “unlocked” cost savings and greater security, reliability and flexibility for the council – aiding its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The move to the cloud enabled council staff to work from home within 40 hours of the first pandemic lockdown in March 2020. Teams has been used to drive collaboration and communication while working remotely, and chat messages on the platform have risen from 40,000 a week before the pandemic to 365,000.
Aberdeen City Council has also worked with Microsoft to launch chatbots that guide 8,000 employees and residents to information about key topics including refuse collection and council tax. The bots now handle 200 queries a day, freeing up staff to handle more complex issues.
Aberdeen will continue to work closely with Microsoft on challenges arising from the public health crisis as the city moves away from its economic reliance on oil and gas and into a future based on renewables.
The organisations will leverage data to drive leaner, predictive and preventative services for the good of Aberdeen’s citizens and its business. It is hoped this will ensure the city continues to be an “inspiring place” for individuals, communities and enterprises, as well as a place to nurture new industries and a city that thrives through its energy transition.
Alan Lewis, general manager of public sector at Microsoft UK, said: “Aberdeen City Council is driving positive and impactful change by using the Microsoft Cloud. It’s staff and the community are seeing first-hand the benefits of the council’s digital transformation and I look forward to seeing how Microsoft and Aberdeen City Council build on the innovative work that has already been achieved.”