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The Customer

Norfolk is a geographically dispersed county and one of the largest in England. As a two-tier authority, Norfolk County Council has seven district city and borough councils making up the overall local authority, with headquarters based in the city historic of Norwich.

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented strain on front line workers across the globe. Thousands of key workers in the UK have adjusted their priorities switched to ensure that the most vulnerable are protected and supported throughout the crisis and beyond. This support ranges from delivering essentials such as food, medicine, supporting loneliness and homelessness.

The Challenge

Norfolk County Council needed to protect and support the most vulnerable and at-risk citizens impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic in the most efficient, consistent and structured way possible. The council had to work out very quickly how they were going to work in partnership with their district colleagues to make sure anyone needing help and support get it in a timely manner, especially those in particular that are clinically vulnerable and being advised to not leave the house for a considerable period of time.

Norfolk Council was identified as a single point of contact for incoming calls with the district councils taking responsibility for outbound calls to people on the shielding list and putting in community responses based on a needs assessment that could be anything from emergency food parcels to prescription pick-ups right through to dog walking or making sure their basic needs were met at a local level.

Norfolk County Council received lists of data from central government which were then split into spreadsheets and allocated to the seven localities so that each district could only see the information based on the residents relevant to their area. They also had to update the spreadsheet to provide central government with data based on who was getting support and who they haven’t been able to get in touch with. With several districts reconciling that information with their own data and in their own systems, there was a high chance of corruption of information, and very quickly they were dealing with lots of compatibility issues between lists, lots of time reconciling and cleansing data and before we could make full sense of what all residents had received or not received.

  • 23,000 people identified as clinically vulnerable
  • Increased number of people identifying themselves as vulnerable due to economic hardship
  • 9000 additional contacts who would need to be passed to districts
Woman phone busy street

The Solution

Norfolk were offered the opportunity of free licences from Microsoft which came at a critical time when the council were beginning to become overwhelmed with maintaining data. Norfolk chose to work with Hitachi Solutions as the Microsoft partner of choice due to proven track record of supporting Council’s with emergency response apps and the speed the solution could be deployed for use.

The Vulnerability Hub delivered a solution to Norfolk’s councils to assist the most vulnerable citizens effectively and efficiently, using Power Platform Model Driven App, embedded canvas app, CDS and power automate. The solution not only manages the outbound contacts and knowing who the council have proactively offered support to, but also helps to track inbound contacts from these emerging groups of people who are starting to struggle with socially isolating, starting to encounter economic hardship, or suffering from any mental health issues such as depression. The solution was demonstrated, processed and delivered in a succinct, remote, yet personable manner. Our Industry and Platform knowledge led to delivering rapid life-saving consulting services to meet the needs of the Local Authorities’ at a time they needed our support the most.

Norfolk are now able to accurately capture the support provisions that have been put in place for people, but also specifics about their circumstances. The information the council now understand about each vulnerable person and their circumstances mean they can proactively support these residents going forwards, while also able to accurately match supply and demand gaining better insight on a real-time basis of the requests coming in and emerging trends.

Crowd of anonymous people walking on a busy New York street during daytime

It’s been great working with Hitachi Solutions. They understand what it means to develop in a really agile way using the Power Platform.

Geoff Connell
Director of IMT & Chief Digital Officer

The Future

Norfolk have expressed their excitement about the opportunities the Vulnerability Hub has provided, it gives them a common system and a common language, as well as a shared way of communicating and meeting the needs of residents and extending to provide early help and prevention services going forwards. Norfolk are now able to provide opportunities for carers or for people who are struggling, for people who need befriending advice or financial advice due to the Vulnerability Hub.