Innovation Exchange

Persons at Risk Database


Key activities

Benefits and impacts


Following various power outages experienced throughout Scotland during 2011/2012, the legacy Central Scotland SCG Support Group requested a working group to consider how to quickly and effectively identify individuals who are less able to help themselves during a severe weather or disruptive event.


In response to an incident in Falkirk, Social Work provided information to Emergency Planning using manually produced paper lists derived from the Social Work Information System (SWIS). This proved to be a lengthy process which used up valuable staff time searching for persons on sheets of paper instead of actually responding to the incident.

Theme: Digital

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A project team was formed to oversee the project as it spanned several council departments.


To ensure that Social Work clients were easily identifiable the quality of the SWIS data was paramount and work undertaken to clean legacy data was done in tandem with the implementation of the One Scotland Gazetteer acting as the definitive source of address data for the Social Work system.


At the same time ICT were involved with setting up a secure server to host highly confidential data and implementing security & backup protocols thereby ensuring that the data would be both secure and accessible in all scenarios including loss of electrical power.


A data extract routine was implemented to allow Social Work data to be routinely exported on a daily basis where the data is then imported into a GIS solution.


Once the database was up and running it was demoed to the local NHS board who agreed to export their own data to the Falkirk system, this development was viewed as a ringing endorsement of the Falkirk solution.


The Council legal team greatly assisted with the Governance arrangements in developing our Information Sharing Protocol between Falkirk Council and the NHS and in progressing the project.

Social Work have reported the functionality of their SWIS database has greatly improved through the process: free hand entries are no longer used and data has been cleansed.


At the touch of a button Emergency Planning now have access to pre-identified shared information that can be accessed quickly, effectively and electronically in the event of an incident. This enables responders to view information on a digital map enabling a fast and effective provision of appropriate practical and relevant assistance to those individuals who might be affected. Having this information digitally allows for further interrogation to highlight, for example, individuals living alone or suffering from physical or mental disabilities.


We now have the means to pro-actively test various scenarios using this technology to identify vulnerable individuals. At the same time Falkirk can test out various mock scenarios that allow for us to quantify the level of response potentially required for various incidents.


This has recently been described by NHS as a ‘game changer’.


The Scottish Government through the National Centre for Resilience commissioned a system to identify the vulnerable in an emergency to provide assistance to them to mitigate the effects of the emergency.  The SG system draws very heavily on the information management and data tagging systems designed at Falkirk.


The Falkirk team contributed freely and constructively to the design of the national system and very many of the lessons learned and practices they designed are incorporated in the adopted system. the SG have gone on record to state that "It is very doubtful if a national system could have been developed without the work, support and assistance of the Falkirk team."

The Vulnerable Individual Database has now been endorsed by the Forth Valley NHS Medical Director and the Director of Development Services for Falkirk Council. The project is being held up as good practice for other councils and Health Boards with a formal invitations from other partnerships to make presentations outlining the technical, legal and practical steps taken to achieve this complex process and offer the same level of success Scotland wide.


The problems posed by the complex issue of sharing personal data in the planning and response to emergencies or disruptive events have long been recognised.  The terrorist attacks and severe events witnessed across the UK and wider highlighted some of the problems of sharing personal information.  To date, no single area in Scotland can claim to have completely resolved the issues.  Our project has overcome many barriers and obstacles, both actual and perceived, and throughout all of this there had been a commitment to succeed.  Without the support and tenacity of individuals within and outwith Falkirk Council, our project would not be as advanced as it is today.


The national roll out of the Falkirk Council influenced Persons At Risk Distribution, which will be made available free of charge to every Local Authority in Scotland, will be launched by  the Deputy First Minister in 2019.

Contact details:

To find out more about this case study, please contact:


Avais Ijaz

Systems Development Officer

Falkirk Council

01324 504860

Case study added to site: December 2018

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