GDPR – designing to empower citizens

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) ensures that we will know what, why and how information about each of us is being stored, and gives us the right to restrict or revoke access to it.

Those of us working in local government have significant challenges as to how we make this work for residents on the forms and applications that they complete. It’s no small task to design data storage, indexes and platforms to deliver these customer rights.

At Digital First we are working with our Information Governance team to match the requirements of the law with the needs of the customer. There are some great discussions going on in the wider pattern design community about how we embrace this opportunity to totally rethink how we present these rights to customers.

The “cookies” acceptance is a useful example to think about. This was also made to empower users. It became “the norm” – but it became an irritating norm. If we really want to empower users with these new rights, we need to present them in a useful way, rather than making them a stumbling block.

A good example for us, and one I am working on, is when a customer comes to book a Pest Control service online. If they are met with a wall of information about what the council is going to do with their data, before even filling in their name, will that make them feel empowered or scared? How do we comply with the level of information we must give without confusing them? We need to make sure that they know what they are are agreeing to, or it’s likely that they will decide to phone instead.

There is an understandable desire to err on the side of legal caution, but how do we make this work for everyone?

As we are all facing this, we would love to share ideas and designs with others. We want to co-design and create some new data design patterns that really do empower the citizen. It would be good to hear from other councils working on this, and any developers and designers keen to share ideas, design patterns or user testing results.

Contact us via the comments, or you can email me at annie.heath@brighton-hove.gov.uk

Digitally transforming Pest Control

We have been working with the pest control team to make their work easier and more efficient. The pests and poisons haven’t been transformed but nearly everything else has been!

Will and Pat
Our pest controllers Pat and Will checking out their new kit.

In this two minute video I describe some of the improvements we have made and the savings they will bring. Roy from the pest control team describes shares his experience of collaborating with us.

 

Working with them has been a real pleasure and I am looking forward to working with the whole team as we go live next week.

First day of development

We have started developing a new tool for pest control. We showed our web developers the list of work we need to complete, which we have written as user stories. This is a way of keeping the customer at the centre of our work when setting out requirements. An example of a user story would be:

“As a resident needing help with pests,

I need to be able to book an appointment at a time that suits me,

so I can get rid of the rat that eats all the Doritos.”

The team then divided into pairs to build different sections of work addressing these user stories. We tried to build an initial form for customers to request help with pests, to book an appointment and to be able to pay.

the-team-divided-into-pairs
The team divided into pairs.

We encountered stumbling blocks, of course, but we were expecting that on day one of development. Some documentation wasn’t clear, and some connectivity didn’t quite work between databases. On Agile projects like ours, there is a role called scrum master who supports the product manager and development team by taking any problems away and finding solutions. Gary Duckworth is our scrum master and is doing an amazing job. I think he must be hiding some sort of time travelling ability. There is no other explanation for how problems get solved so quickly!

The combination of experienced software developers and excellent scrum-mastery has meant we also had some success. There was an upbeat air to the room and a lot of clever technical conversation going on around me.

v-happy-with-our-first-day-building-results
Admiring our results at the end of a very promising first day.