NISRA enhances service provision whilst saving time
and money with new digitised platform
The Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (NISRA) is an Agency of the Department of Finance. The Agency is the principal source of official statistics and social research in Northern Ireland. These statistics and research not only inform public policy but also academic and private sector research, and contribute to debate in the wider community.
The Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (NISRA) is an Agency of the Department of Finance. The Agency is the principal source of official statistics and social research in Northern Ireland.
These statistics and research not only inform public policy but also academic and private sector research, and contribute to debate in the wider community.
They provide their services to a wide range of Government Departments and Non-Departmental Public Bodies, as well as Local Councils to assist the policy development process and the delivery of their business objectives.
NISRA’s Perito Survey Management System, designed, built and operated by EQ ICS, required a ‘like for like’ technical refresh to allow for the continued, effective, and secure running of the service. The value of the work conducted by NISRA cannot be underestimated, and like all government systems has to be conducted in a secure manner. EQ ICS took this opportunity to replace legacy offline PDF forms with a new digitised platform. The new solution needed to allow for the electronic distribution and receipt of surveys. This would allow businesses to complete and submit via the completion of online web forms, making access easier across multiple channels and devices.
The new web-based platform for our electronic surveys has received positive feedback from our staff and the businesses who receive our surveys alike. In the COVID-19 lockdown our response rates depended heavily on this new online platform, and without it the quality of data that we have been able to collect would have been compromised further. We have found benefit in the validation rules built into the online forms, as opposed to being applied as the data enters our system, as the quality of the data captured on the form is better and requires less manual follow-up with the business, therefore reducing the burden our surveys place on businesses and our staff resource. Users can also access the online platform from more devices than the previous system. Overall, we have a more accessible, user-friendly system now.’
Deputy Principal Statistician, NISRA
In order to improve the user-experience and with a view to increasing response rates, EQ ICS developed a number of new elements for NISRA, supporting processes and custom code for the capture of survey respondent’s data, as well as the interfaces between the existing ‘back end’ and the Outreach ‘front end’ systems.
This allows for the enhanced validation of user’s data, for example using benchmarking against previous years to pick up on potential errors. This permits for real-time verification of items or data, helping NISRA receive correct, true and proper data. By improving accuracy, NISRA are able to collect and analyse a higher quality of data.
As part of the technical refresh project to replace legacy offline forms, EQ ICS built a customised electronic forms solution via our Outreach platform. The development of an online platform provides users access across multiple devices and allows businesses to enter their survey data 24/7, at a time and a place convenient to them, with a view to increase response rates. On top of this, the new system introduced is WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) compliant, thus improving accessibility via a browser based solution that can be reached using any suitable device, with a view to reducing the digital divide.
The intuitive nature of the Outreach platform also permits users to save survey progress, allowing users to pick up where they left off, whereas previously any information submitted would have been lost and the process started again.
Through digitisation, NISRA hope to experience an increase in their survey response rate, with more accessible and accurate survey data, as well as benefiting from a reduction in the amount of physical storage required from paper based records. This, along with a reduced environmental footprint through paper usage and postage methods, will allow NISRA to become more streamlined and help towards saving time and money.
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