Staying cool with Agile

Housing Technology presentation DF with hot weather

You may remember an earlier post about the environmental sensors we have installed in one of our sheltered housing developments. We had intended these sensors to measure high humidity and unusually low temperatures, in order to prevent the development of black mould, increased vulnerability to infections and also to detect early signs of fuel poverty.

However, elderly and vulnerable residents are also at risk when it gets really hot – just as it did during the July heatwave, which now seems like an increasingly distant memory! Towards the end of July, the system which captures the sensor data showed that a small number of flats were experiencing temperatures which never dropped below 27°C, even at night – very uncomfortable and potentially hazardous. We were able to alert the scheme manager, who immediately visited the affected residents and was able to offer advice and support for keeping cool.

Of course, the beauty of the Agile Method is that we are able to respond quickly to new requirements. In collaboration with the integration team in IT&D, we re-prioritised our work for the next sprint, creating a new business rule on our integration platform, Dell Boomi. In future, when temperatures exceed a certain threshold over an extended period, this will automatically create a task in our case management system, iCasework, and assign it to the relevant care worker. We have also successfully tested this approach using the API provided by the GOV.UK Notify service, which will generate SMS and emails containing the information needed by the care worker.

It’s early days yet as we understand better what our new technology can do, but it’s looking very promising.

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!