Benchmarking in local government with Prospex mapping software...

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A client of Beacon Dodsworth since 1998, APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) is a third sector organisation working to spread best practice in local government.

In 1998 APSE set up Performance Networks in response to the demands and challenges facing local government from best value. Today, it is the largest voluntary public sector benchmarking model of its kind, with 208 local authorities currently in membership and over 900 facilities registered for Sports & Leisure Facility Management across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

APSE is an important source of information, keeping its member authorities informed of developments in best value, best practice and innovations in direct service delivery.

Local authority performance cannot usefully be measured in isolation from demographics. In order to benchmark local authority performance accurately, APSE needs to take the demographic make up of each local authority into account when measuring service performance. To do this they use Beacon Dodsworth’s geographic information system (GIS), Prospex and people classification, P² People & Places.

Prospex enables APSE to look at each local authority area and compare their performance by rating each type of local government service across a range of criteria, measuring deprivation and modelling geographic variation throughout the country. In addition to geographical and demographic data, APSE uses Met Office data, provided by Beacon Dodsworth, to assess grounds maintenance services which are affected by the weather.

Using Prospex to identify well-performing and under-performing local authorities in relation to the demographics of each authority, APSE is able to identify how to improve the services of under-performing authorities.

Local authorities cannot simply replicate the actions of well-performing authorities if their demographic make up is different. For example, a leisure centre may perform well in an affluent area because the residents can afford to use the service, however it may not do as well in a deprived area. This is not due to the local authority’s service but the demographics of the area surrounding authority.

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