Hurrah for Women – Ada Lovelace Day 2017

Hello, I’m Ali. I head up our Digital First team and I’m a woman.

There’s been a lot in the media recently about women in tech, mostly about how few women work in the sector and if they do, what a poor experience they have.

We’re having quite a different experience in Digital First. Out of a team of 25 people, 12 are women, and we’re across the whole team.

That’s definitely something to celebrate today on Ada Lovelace Day – an international celebration day of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

We have a healthy diversity. We have women in our development team, product team and our digital communications team. They work at all levels, senior, junior, mid level and in all roles across our digital transformation team.

It’s interesting that this has happened organically as we’ve put the team together. I think it’s just been a case of finding the right people for the roles and often those people just happen to be women. But is it an unconscious bias as I lead the team, and my boss is also a woman, or is that the reverse might happen in a tech team led by a man? That’s impossible to say. Brighton & Hove City Council has a well established equal opportunities policy which must help us as well.

What is clear though, is that we have a team of people all working well together, making great strides into transforming some of the council’s work. We collaborate and we disagree, everyone has a voice and everyone can be their true self. This makes for a healthy and mature team which makes us more productive and able to deliver better results.

So hurrah for women but a bigger hurrah for good people overall.

Here’s some of our team, others were more camera shy.

The Golden Record

Hi, I’m Gary and I work as the Delivery Manager for Digital First. I’d like to tell you what we’re aiming to achieve by:

Delivering a system capable of producing a single/individual cleansed unique dataset for the referencing of other internal applications or systems.

This single system is also known as the Golden Record.

One of the main issues facing local and central government is how to establish a joined-up service that makes it easier for citizens to use council services and reduce staff costs.

At the moment many departments work in silos and records held within one department are separate to those held in another. For example, if you wish to talk to several council departments, each department will go through a set of security questions to authenticate who you are.

These separate records may be different and inaccurate. For instance, Mrs Megan Smith in one department may be Ms M Smyth in another. This is frustrating for the public and adds to the staff processing costs.

To resolve this we need a joined-up service. We can achieve this by building a system that can identify individuals across multiple departments using sophisticated matching routines.

Once we have this, we need a method of updating the out-of-date records to improve data quality and a way to view the data online. We also need to consider records that can’t be matched.

Over the last year we’ve:

  • Identified internal systems to see if we can use them
  • Identified from these systems all useable data sets
  • Built routines that can match data, via a product called ClearCore
  • Identified how we can automate these extraction and matching processes
  • Implemented online Rapid Application Development systems, which we’ve blogged about before
  • Built a supporting database
  • Identified security issues to understand authentication, authorisation and access of individual data
  • Identified a system to update other systems with correct or more up to date information

All of this has been achieved with a single mindset for the future – to give people of Brighton & Hove access to their data in a meaningful and useful way.

I’ll share more details in future blogs.

What’s new in Sprint 8

Hello grapple fans. It’s that time of the sprint where we share the highlights of the past two weeks.

Mobile working in Cityclean

Report A Problem allows citizens across Brighton to tell us about graffiti, fly-tipping and more. We’re on to the final piece in the puzzle now – developing mobile apps our teams on the ground use to communicate with each other and find out about new jobs. George, Luke and Cityclean colleagues have produced and tested a private beta, together with mockups of further improvements.

An early version of the app used by Cityclean mobile workers

Safeguarding your data

The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR for short) come into force across the UK from May 2018, and colleagues across the council have been working through the implications. Annie has produced great wireframes showing where we’re headed. We’d love to collaborate with other organisations on this, so please drop us a line if you’re interested.

Will in Whitehawk

As well as managing the Digital First programme, I’ve started working as a Product Manager with our Communities team. My first job is to create a map of all community organisations in Whitehawk, and start workshops to help people get listed on Google. There’s a lot we can help with and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in. 

Bristol bound

Last Friday and Saturday I attended LocalGovCamp, hosted by Bristol City Council this year. There are several hundred words I’d like to blog, so stay tuned. For now I wanted to say thanks to all the organisers and volunteers – we had a great venue and excellent sessions. Can’t wait for next year!

Let’s talk…

Whether you’re at Brighton & Hove City Council, another council, or in the local digital sector, we’d really like to strike up a conversation. What would you like to hear about from us? What challenges are you grappling with? Please do get in touch.