The Importance of Quality Data and Craving for Information
Yesterday, in the UK, a new crime-mapping website for England and Wales was launched with the intent of giving the population real facts on crime and anti-social behaviour as well as making police more accountable. The website will enable people to find out which crimes have taken place on or near their street within the past month and which officers are responsible for their area.
From the minute it was launched, however, the website caused mass frustration when it crashed due to high demand – reportedly attracting as many as 18 million hits an hour (more than any British government website has ever tried to deal with). The frustration was not limited to the millions that could not even get on to the site. Many who were able to use the system were furious at anomalies in the statistics. Several quiet streets seemed to be picked out as trouble spots because crimes committed in nearby city centers were collected under their postcodes.
When I began to think about this situation, I made two observations:
- People crave information
- Quality, reliable data is critical – the minute people start to question the reliability of the data, you quickly lose credibility
These 2 observations can easily be applied to the world of field service and workforce optimization.
- Customers are looking to gain more control over the service experience. They want to be able to book their appointments online, receive regular updates as to the expected arrival time of the engineer, be able to reschedule their appointment, know who the engineer is and be able to have any question answered by the person standing in their front room.
- In a service business, decisions are made constantly. Some decisions may be more strategic in nature such as ‘Should I use contractors or increase the size of my own workforce?’ Some decisions may be more tactical, such as those relating to real-time such as ‘What is the best route to take to the next job?’ Whatever the decision – and there will be thousands of them – one thing is clear. Making the right decision relies on having access to good quality data. When you have good data, the workforce optimization system can make the right decision based on the right data. This will help the users of this data build up confidence in the system – a key factor in the success of a workforce optimization, scheduling and mobility implementation.
Who knows what will happen with this new initiative to improve transparency in UK policing and crime statistics? According to an individual at Portsmouth City Council, “If Portsmouth is anything to go by, this website is a complete farce, it’s identifying wrong crime epicentres and missing out crimes in other areas so you can’t rely on it.” This comment comes following the inclusion of a “quiet street” in Hampshire as one of the most crime-ridden. The crime maps show Surrey Street in Portsmouth, as having 136 crimes, including burglary, violence and anti-social behaviour in December.
The street, which is less than 100m long, is only home to a pub, a car park and a block of flats.