SAVVI – a system approach to identifying vulnerability

I recently found out about SAVVI, which stands for “a Scalable Approach to Vulnerability via Interoperability”. SAVVI, led by Tameside Council and sponsored by GMCA, aims to use data to find vulnerable people. The project is developing a catalogue of datasets, their sources and the basis on which they can be used by organisations delivering public services to identify individuals or households with particular vulnerabilities, such as for the purpose of homelessness prevention. 

Having worked with local authority and publicly available secondary data for some time, often building specific analytical tools to spec, I saw the potential straight away of SAVVI to transform how organisations delivering public services use their and others’ data to improve the work they do and outcomes for the vulnerable people identified. 

Vulnerability often looks different from different parts of the system, and it can be difficult to fully identify vulnerability and people’s needs from within a single service so my hope is that SAVVI brings different perspectives across the system of public services together in the form of powerful datasets that can be used to identify, and then support, those whose needs are currently invisible. 

You can find out more about SAVVI here:

and watch video presentations about the project here: 

Using secondary data to identify vulnerability and support needs isn’t a new idea. In 2018/19, when I was interim Business Intelligence and Performance Manager for the soon to be Somerset West and Taunton Council, I initiated a project to develop a dataset using council tax, police, and DWP data that would enable the council to better identify or even predict households for which earlier support could help to prevent council tax payment defaults. 

The principle being applied was that support that meets citizens’ underlying needs is always going to be cheaper than enforcement action after things have gone wrong and will undoubtedly lead to better outcomes for all involved. The aim of the business intelligence work, under whose umbrella the project sat, was to develop a single dataset for all council held data in a GIS, which is a database for geographic data, so that any form of geographical analysis could be conducted as required. 

I was fortunate to have a very skilled team but only saw the very start of the project while I was there so it’s great to see SAVVI being developed as this could open up the power of data that is already available, to address challenging population issues across the system. 

If you’re interested in the power of geographic data, you might also want to have a look at HMG’s Geospatial Strategy:

How can you make better decisions in #complexity?

What is one thing you’d like to offer to adult social care commissioners to help them decide their approach?

How can you make better decisions in #complexity?

How do we ensure a better #future for citizens, communities – and ourselves?

How can we encourage #innovation in an over-pressurised and partly broken system?

Adult social care #commissioning is a fantastic space to explore these issues, as we’ve been doing for the last few weeks on an interesting project, and for years before that!

Commissioning in adult social care means shaping a complex system to get better outcomes for people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities or physical or mental health issues.

It can be as narrow (but challenging) as ‘procuring organisations to provide homecare’, and as wide and messy as ‘shaping a community where everyone can thrive’.

As a commissioner, you have varying levels of power, authority, capability, respect, and understanding in your organisation.

…you have to constantly respond to crises (most of them caused by ‘austerity’): a provider of care collapsing; problems recruiting and retaining workforce because they’re paid less than Amazon; 30% of carers off sick with COVID; an urgent need for particular specialist mental health services (say).

…and you have to work in a place, with all its complexities:

– do the chief executives of the council and the hospital trust get along, or can they not be trusted to be in the same room together?

– do our providers trust us, or are they still hurting because we clumsily tried to reduce their fees three years ago?

– do the community organisations agree with our ideas about ‘coproduction’, or do they see it as foisting the costs of care on to them?

What we’re doing is trying to produce a tool to help people doing this messy, complex job to assess their context, and:

1- put together a commissioning development plan to get more ability to influence the system of health and care in their place (or, even, the system of wellbeing)

2- decide which of twelve ‘commissioning approaches’ fits their place and their needs best

We’ve been running this as a #workoutloud process – so if you fancy diving in and contributing, you’re welcome! There’s an open Mural board and an open meeting on Wednesday 20 April at 2:30pm (links below).

Or you can give us a quick comment here:

What is one thing you’d like to offer to adult social care commissioners to help them decide their approach?

As well as the slides (scroll to the bottom), the draft working documents are on a Mural board for comment, at

Mural Board

And there’s a final meeting of our open group for anybody who wants to comment on Wednesday 20th 2:30-3:45pm which you are welcome to attend – registration needed at

About this work:

The Public Service Transformation Academy has been commissioned by the LGA (the Care and Health Improvement Programme, jointly run with DHSC and ADASS) to produce a tool for adult social care commissioners to go through strategic options appraisal – i.e. to assess their place and decide the best approach to commissioning.

The slides in PDF: