How can local authorities leverage Microsoft Azure to improve local services?

Salford City Council, Microsoft Azure, Azure, big data

Local authorities are predicting that between 2010 and 2020 they will face a reduction in central funding of nearly £16 billion, meaning councils will lose 60p in every £1 the government currently provide to spend on local services such as waste collection and social care.

To add to this, a total of 168 councils will receive no revenue support grants at all… so, where is government funding going to come from to support the services local citizens need?

In the future, local and regional councils are facing devolved spending powers and there will be a greater impetus on revenue generation. As a result, councils will have to be self-sustainable and in essence become more like commercial organisations. It is expected that the two single biggest revenue generators will be Council Tax and Business Rate Collection making up over 90% of income, as seen below:


Business Rates Blog Image



So, what are council’s doing to prepare for this change?

It’s no secret that data can help local authorities make services more personalised, efficient and drive revenue – this is exactly what Salford City Council are doing to focus on economic development and maximise business rates collection.

The council is consolidating a number of data sources across multiple lines of business systems to identify growth across the city whilst ensuring collection of business rates are at the correct levels and correlating the data sources to ensure they align. The council will utilise Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to predict future growth and to ensure businesses across the city are paying the correct levels of rates.


So how can digital projects such as this one deliver true business impact?

Microsoft Public Cloud Services offer over 100 data and analytics services to assist with use cases like this. By taking a combination of internal and external data sources, and producing business-aligned outcomes and intelligence, organisations can influence and drive efficiencies through service delivery functions. For Salford, ANS have designed a solution that combines data sources to provide an authoritative view of the businesses operating in the Salford area, along with their recent activity covering business rates billing, business planning and control, licensing, inspections and more. Furthermore, the design will then allow Salford to train a Machine Learning model, to make intelligent predictions as to:

  • New businesses due to open or move into the area, and target these organisations with support, incentives, as well as to protect revenues.
  • Track the growth of businesses and business sectors, and incentivise businesses in particular verticals, as required, to ensure a balanced and sustainable Salford.
  • Businesses most likely to default on business rates payments, based on an intelligent trend analysis of activity and characteristics, to enable an early engagement to support businesses.
  • Protection of Salford and its residents from fraudulent businesses activity.


So which services can be leveraged from Microsoft Azure cloud services to achieve this?

  • Azure Datalake, to enable large volumes of data from a variety of sources to be ingested for analysis, covering a variety of formats.
  • Azure Databricks, to enable the solution to parallel process data leveraging a range of logic flows executed in different languages.
  • Azure Machine Learning Studio, to enable anomaly detection and regression techniques to be leveraged during data analysis.
  • Azure Data Warehouse, to enable the storage of master data along with various semantic models aligning to business intelligence initiatives.
  • PowerBI and PowerApps, to enable the effective consumption of data insights, allowing service delivery processes to be influenced by intelligent analytics, along with self-service no-code web applications


By adopting Microsoft Azure, Salford are able to leverage an extremely powerful suite of data and analytics services, on a Consumption as-a-Service basis, to change the way Service Delivery teams support the business and residents of Salford.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of integrating Microsoft Azure in public services, listen to of our on-demand webinars with Jon Burt, Head of Technology Operations and Infrastructure at Salford City Council, as he explains how the council is embracing in-depth business intelligence capabilities to improve local services.

Watch the webinar on-demand here.

Posted by Craig Daniels