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Mehmet Kaynakci is a Principal Digital Consultant at Surrey County Council. His role is focused on championing the use of digital technologies and solutions to enable new ways of working and transform public services. A Cambridge Spark Level 7 AI and Data Science Apprenticeship has equipped him with valuable knowledge and skills, and added vital specialist capability to his team.

There are currently 24 county councils in England governing an area known as a county. Surrey County Council was created in 1889 and is served by 81 councillors, responsible for local public services and making Surrey a better place to live. The county council makes positive and practical differences to the lives of people in the county by protecting them from harm, making roads safer and conserving the countryside. They manage public services, education, waste disposal, transport and highway management.

Surrey County Council launched a digital strategy 2025 that sets out how their approach to digital will improve services for residents over the next five years. The Surrey County Council Digital and Agile transformation programmes, and the Surrey Heartlands Digital Workstream will deliver the community vision of 'Living Digital' by 2030. 

Surrey County Council recognises the need to keep up to date with emerging technologies and keep building data governance into their strategies. A commitment to data apprenticeships is increasing the data maturity of their organisation and helping Surrey County Council to remain relevant. By continuing to evolve digitally, to provide a better experience for their residents they will keep attracting new business into the county, keeping it viable.

Data is key to my role. It fundamentally transforms how we work and what we do, for example, analysing data relating to sentiment and behaviour in the county means we can understand, anticipate, and plan for the services our residents want and need the most. Data insights tell us who uses our services, when they use them and where improvements can be made. ”

Mehmet Kaynakci, Principal Digital Consultant

As the needs of Surrey County Council residents evolve and change, data-based projects relating to demand for services help Mehmet's team identify what's changing so capacity can be anticipated and adapted to maintain good customer service levels. As an example, advanced data science techniques from Mehmet's apprenticeship will be applied to calculate the demand for resource capacity that the relevant service needs during school application peak times. Data modelling based on the analysis of demand seen in previous years, meant the team could ensure capacity won't run out at this important time. School applications have time limits so a system failure due to overload would affect people's lives if school places were lost.

The same data science techniques were seen to be applicable during the pandemic when demand for registering births and deaths changed significantly. With a 5 day window to register a birth or a death online, capacity could have reached critical levels without the data insights to anticipate an increase in demand for these services. Indeed, Mehmet's team is about to deploy a chatbot to automate the processes to complete online death registrations to ensure the user experience is managed with sympathy and without complaints, to avoid exasperating any service issues. 

The ability to identify and anticipate changes in demand for local services is creating a tangible difference for Surrey residents. We have the opportunity to redesign services based on the insights from data analysis. This will then encourage the residents to self-serve and reduce the need for expensive call agents too.”

Mehmet Kaynakci, Principal Digital Consultant

Advanced data science techniques from Mehmet's apprenticeship have been used to develop a model to classify the text-based enquiries from residents and staff based on their importance. These enquiries can then be assigned to the relevant service automatically. This data model will enable the council to improve response times to residents and save the time of service agents. This project has good potential to be extended to other service areas and partners.

Working in collaboration with other local authorities, Mehmet is seeking to look at ways to improve online processes for the payment of council services and fines. Payment transaction data, such as the amount, delays and abandoned payments. Data regarding demand, time and dates are giving Mehmet’s team patterns relating to human behaviour in this area. The data analysis has a potential to provide important insights about what residents want and need that will lead to payment services being redesigned. 

Another of Mehmet's apprenticeship projects was based on social care data. Surrey County Council is working to provide preventative services by identifying the needs of communities early and being proactive to respond to their needs. Identifying the service needs of residents at the earliest opportunity will help people to find and manage the right support for themselves and, or those they care for.

We define value by the benefit it provides to our residents. Everything we learn in the apprenticeship is based on real life projects that we are tackling within the county so you could say that everything we do in the classroom provides value to residents outside of the classroom.”

Mehmet Kaynakci, Principal Digital Consultant

Going forward, Mehmet plans to base one of his future apprenticeship projects on NLP processing with chatbot functionality to manage generic enquiries more effectively across the county. This will provide a better service to residents who don't have to wait in a telephone queuing system to receive help and will free-up additional capacity for more live chat. They are also considering different ways to make data insights available to partners such as Surrey Police and the NHS or local businesses.

A Level 7 Data Scientist Apprenticeship provides insight into industry trends and what’s coming so learners can stay ahead in terms of business efficiency. Another popular element of the Level 7 programme are the visualisation techniques to effectively present data insights to senior stakeholder teams for buy-in.

Cambridge Spark are currently enrolling for the next cohort of the Level 7 Data Science and AI Apprenticeship. Get in touch with the team using the form below to find out how we can help your organisation build data analytics capability.