The bigger picture

This week has been a big one for Digital First: delivering our first apps, getting a mention at the Brighton & Hove Budget Council and presenting an overview of our project plan to the Member Oversight Group.

As with every agile team, we’re learning all the time. We’re getting better at looking ahead, breaking down silos and putting our users first.

It’s worth remembering the challenges councils across the country face. Our Executive Director of Finance & Resources, David Kuenssberg, explains the bigger picture on the council’s new Leadership blog.

We’re proud to play our part. As my old boss used to say: “Onwards!”

Pest control ready for user testing

Last Thursday the Verify team at the Government Digital Service (GDS) held a user research training workshop in London. I took on Storm Doris and the usual train mayhem to get there, and I am so pleased I did. The skills and tools I learnt will be invaluable for the work we’re doing at Digital First.

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Prioritising questions at the Verify user research workshop.

Already this Wednesday, we’ll get to try out some of them when we test our new web pages for pest control. Annie, Luke (our newest team member) and I will be sitting by the entrance at Jubilee Library between 2 pm and 5 pm, laptop and tablet at the ready. Our new online booking form especially will be put through the wringer. Annie and the web development team have been working tirelessly on it for the past month, making sure everything works as it should.

Anyone is welcome to stop by and give us feedback – no advanced computer skills needed. We would like the content we create for the new website to be accessible to everyone.

Please come and see us if you have 15 minutes to spare. We can offer a slice of rodent-themed cake for those who participate.

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Annie and Luke, two of the faces you’ll see at our library stand.

The GOV.UK Verify pilot

Since October last year, we’ve been working with the Verify team at the Government Digital Service (GDS) on a pilot project to streamline our parking permits service.

If you’ve not heard of Verify, it’s fast becoming the way UK citizens prove their identity when using government services online. You can read more about Verify here.

We’re excited about Verify’s potential uses across Brighton & Hove. Our citizens and businesses want to do more online, and cut out the need to visit us in person. Verify is a good example of how we can do hard work behind the scenes to make things simpler for our users.

This is why I’ve got some sad news. Late last week we decided to postpone our work with Verify, with a view to resuming later in the year.

In short, it’s a great project but currently the timing isn’t right for us. Our Digital First team has a lot to deliver this year. For example, we have a lot of big programmes of work in Adult Social Care and Cityclean. We’re also working with our Parking colleagues on a virtual permits service, which stands to benefit from a tie up with Verify at a later date.

We still want to be involved in Verify, so we’ll still be attending some of their events, such as Show & Tells. We’ll also be cheering on colleagues from 13 other councils as they continue to work with GDS on the #VerifyLocal pilots. Good luck to all!