The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB) have launched a new system to identify uninsured drivers.
The system works by comparing the Motor Insurance Database with the DVLA's vehicle database.
It forms the bedrock of the Continuous Insurance Enforcement initiative, a collaboration between the DVLA, the Department for Transport and MIB to reduce the number of vehicles being driven on UK roads without insurance. It was prompted by the 2004 Greenaway Report, which identified that UK had the highest incidence of uninsured drivers in Western Europe.
David Hancock, director of enforcement at the DVLA, told Computerworld UK sister title CIO that the system was "not simple to design" because it "required a significant amount of planning especially around data protection regulation".
Alongside the development of the comparison engine, there was also "additional work on the enforcement case work system", Hancock said.
The system was developed with IBM consultants. To link the insurance and vehicle databases IBM started by analysing the "big data" on vehicles registered with the DVLA and data on insured vehicles from the Motor Insurance Database.
By making sure the data was accurate and compatible, this reduced the risk of incorrectly identifying vehicle keepers as being uninsured. The next step was integrating both sets of data in line with data sharing requirements.
"The DVLA and MIB now have a more robust view of uninsured vehicles which will allow enforcement action to be taken," said Hancock.
A similar system had been considered before, but the idea was "mothballed for two years until it secured the necessary funding".
The first phase to go live on the new system was the insurance advisory letter which went online on 21 June, eighteen months after user requirements were gathered. Secondly, the fixed penalty notice module went live last week.
The DVLA is now working on a final phase to deploy the wheel camping system to clamp uninsured vehicles, and that will be going live from late autumn.
"We expect to see a real reduction in uninsured drivers but we will need to take a look in six months' time to accurately measure the real benefits," said Hancock.
Under the new system, if a vehicle is suspected as being uninsured, the registered keeper will receive a letter from the MIB advising them to get insurance or declare the vehicle off-road. If they fail to do this enforcement action will be taken by the DVLA consisting of a fixed penalty of £100, wheel clamping or court prosecutions.
In other DVLA news, last month the body signed a £100 million contract with outsourcer Capita to provide a national Vehicle Excise Duty system. Capita replaced incumbent supplier NSL and will provide the new system from November.