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Cost Calculator

The Cost Calculator is a web based intelligence tool designed to support local authorities in analysing the use of the services they provide. It uses the cost of service provision as the primary measure of service use.

The Cost Calculator tool was built as part of a data innovation project by a multi-disciplinary team commissioned by the London Borough of Hounslow that was carried out between Spring 2016 and Spring 2017. The project aimed to explore how we could identify the top 20 most costly individuals with complex needs, and those most likely to become homeless, across different services in Hounslow. The project was part funded by the Local Government Association and the Department for Communities and Local Government. The tool was developed as the output of a

I was the technical lead for this project with responsibility for finding a workable technological solution to achieve the objectives of the data innovation project. I analysed the problem, designed the solution, oversaw the detailed design of the tool and accompanying data schemas, and worked alongside a developer during the building of the tool helping with design decisions and testing.

This was an open source project. The tool itself was built in PHP using the Laravel framework and is designed to work with SQL Server databases.

The source code for the Cost Calculator tool is available on GitHub at: https://github.com/LBHounslow/cost-calc

The tool is capable of:

  • processing data sets that contain financial information about the users of services;
  • matching individuals across the different data sets to produce a “client index”, which is used to calculate all costs associated with those clients;
  • producing three types of reports about service use, which can be filtered in different ways to aid analysis.

The three types of included report are:

  • Total Spend by Client
  • Breakdown of Spend by Client
  • Total Spend by Service

The tool operates as a web application and includes user management and authentication features, the ability to assign different user permissions, and file upload capabilities.

The objective of the tool is to facilitate those working in local authorities and other public services to be able to analyse financial information and to gain an understanding of the pattern of service use of an individual, or group of individuals, beyond one particular service.

The final report of the project with further details is available here: End of Project Report Hounslow Cost Calculator