IBM bought Dublin-based Curam Software today and now has a dashboard view of how most of the Irish government delivers social services to citizens. This kind of efficiency may result in better analysis of how much State welfare drips into individual household addresses across Ireland.
Although there is strong opposition to the amalgamation of social welfare data--in my opinion, because that amalgamation could lead to spirited exchanges with social welfare officers across Ireland--it makes sense to look at the broader picture of how health and human services are delivered across the Republic of Ireland. Curam Software has those tools.
Curam's products allow cities and governments from many countries in the world to construct a single view of benefits and services available across agencies, levels of government and private and not-for-profit organizations. This kind of dashboard view could allow government agencies to focus on lowering overall program costs by keeping a more precise level of social welfare targeted at those with the greatest needs. If you know a home gets more than 500 euro a week in social welfare support, a social welfare officer can analyse why those supports are in place and can even help a welfare recipient draw down more supports by looking at all the options available in the system.
The overall goals of this kind of data service is to target welfare supports to areas of greatest need and to help people become more self-sufficient by trimming back welfare support that may exceed the table of allowances set by the Department of Social Protection.
I have seen some of IBM's technology at work in cities and governments outside of Ireland. Used with a strategic focus, the amalgamated data helps make more efficient solutions.
I am less confident about how this improved data service will reduce queues in social welfare offices because the standard solution to any social welfare need is to join the queue and present your case for more support to the case officer. So I wouldn't hold up much hope that IBM's use of Curam Software will transform the way citizens do business with government. Rather, the software could expose the way benefits are spread through the population.
IBM uses its "smarter cities" technology center in Dublin to work with municipal authorities, universities, and businesses to develop new ways of making city systems "more connected, sustainable and intelligent." Curam's software suite improves that smarter cities initiative.