Portfolio

Weather data analytics for public sector

Kent County Council responds to climate change with our weather reporting software

Influential Software developed a weather data analytics solution that measures the cost of climate change so the council can apply for funding and improve public services.

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Executive brief

Adapting faster with weather data analytics

Kent County Council is the largest local authority in England, with a population of 1.5 million. Influential Software helped the council respond to the threat of climate change by delivering the Severe Weather Impacts Monitoring System (SWIMS). This system helps the council apply for funding as part of the EU project Flood Resilient Areas by Multi-layEred Safety (FRAMES). Overall, the system helped the council to:

better protect the public

receive EU project funds

improve vital infrastructure

minimise financial losses

Read on for the full details of this public sector software development project.

The full story

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The challenge

Legacy application modernisation was needed

With severe weather events predicted to increase due to climate change, it’s imperative to gather actionable data on the phenomenon. This is especially true for public bodies such as local councils.

 

For this reason, Kent County Council has developed a strategy to prepare for severe weather including flooding, storms, and heatwaves. This requires creating a climate change impact assessment to identify how the council can improve its response.

 

However, the council’s SWIMS weather reporting software was not collecting the volume of data needed to properly inform a response. The reason for this was an unintuitive interface that hindered non-technical users. In turn, this was preventing the council from preparing effectively for future weather events.

 

On top of the difficult interface, the weather reporting software also lacked scalability. With severe weather events on the rise, it was important that the software could handle larger volumes of data.

 

And if our solution proved successful, the council wanted the option of rolling it out to other public bodies in the future. Therefore they needed a weather data analytics solution that was easy to replicate, modify, and scale.

The solution

Delivering a new weather reporting system

Having impressed the council with our response to their invitation to tender, Influential was chosen to deliver the project.

 

We proposed rebuilding the SWIMS weather reporting software in .NET and hosting it in Microsoft Azure. With Azure’s fully maintained and scalable cloud services, this would ensure long-term value for the software.

 

Overall, the weather reporting system had the following features:

 

  • data entry with fields such as text, numbers, dropdown lists, and check boxes
  • data analysis allowing users to produce custom reports based on their roles
  • the ability to easily export data in .xlsx, .docx and .pdf formats

 

At the same time, the system had to reflect the council’s administrative structure (from high to low): county, organisation, and service. Each of these levels was reflected in a different user type with different permissions in the software:

 

  1. administrator: can send out county-wide notifications, run reports on system usage, and edit the categories users select
  2. enhanced user: can access and report on data within their organisation, and delete users in line with GDPR legislation
  3. standard user: can only access data within and run reports about their service

 

Furthermore, the solution had to comply with EU and UK data hosting standards, as well as being secure and password-protected.

 

Our software engineers delivered the project according to the agile development methodology. This meant meeting with the client regularly to get feedback to incorporate into the next “sprint” of work. Using Jira project management tools, we let the council’s stakeholders track our work in real time. This approach ensured that we used our time effectively and were able to make any desired adjustments.

 

Overall, some core features of the development work were:

 

  • database development
  • security, access, and permissions development
  • event creation
  • enquiry and maintenance screens development
  • UI development and improvement based on user feedback
  • dashboard development
  • report development
  • data extract controls development

The benefits

Helping Kent weather the storm

By collaborating closely with Kent County Council, we succeeded in building a system that was suitable for non-technical staff. This provided an immediate benefit in the form of a more detailed climate change impact assessment.

 

Our redeveloped SWIMS software tells the council exactly how much climate change has cost in Kent over any given period. This granular ability to capture and analyse climate change costs is unique in the marketplace.

 

In brief, the benefits of this new weather data analytics system were:

 

  • increased user adoption of the weather reporting system
  • better evidence to demonstrate how weather impacts the county
  • the ability to apply for funds to build more resilient public services
  • a deeper understanding of how to improve the council’s response

 

In the long term, the council was better equipped to conserve resources and protect its 1.5 million population. And the council now has the option of sharing this weather data analytics solution with other public sector organisations.

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From climate change impact assessment solutions to fintech and training software, we can build almost anything. To find out more, visit our development page.

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17th November 2020
legacy modernisation, .NET, software development, digital portals