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Running social welfare like a marketing campaign

Stephen Bell | March 13, 2013
Social welfare swallows up a quarter of New Zealand's gross domestic product, so it is important to identify where that money can be most productively and efficiently used, says Mike O'Neil of the Ministry of Social Development (MSD).

The Police decision to use SAS software was indirect; "we looked at what other police forces in the region were doing and Victoria's seemed to be best practice. They used SAS." NZ Police arrived at a similar business model and the technology to use "fell out of that", Knight says. Elements of the system's architecture came from the Western Australian police. The development is centred on an analytical data mart.

Statistical analysis enables the Police to count crime in a consistent way and, like MSD, to extrapolate the current and future situation based on the history of the people involved -- both offenders and victims. Collection of systematic data on victims has been a gap until recently, Knight says.

Management in Police is still made up to a large extent of promoted active officers, whose decisions to date have been heavily dependent on "good judgement, with a heavy element of intuition," Knight says. Objective statistical analysis gives a firmer basis.

Business parameters for the new way of working included low cost and speed to market and this has led to a rejection of complex systems development lifecycle management in favour of faster processes. The coding was outsourced to SAS Institute NZ.

Police have the basic software complete and are currently working on applying the analytics, refining business processes and service-level agreements and formulating a business intelligence strategy.

Likely future steps include predictive analysis and the application of geospatial data.


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