The Local Government Digital Unconference

In Feb and March this year the Local Government Digital Collaboration Unit (LGDCU) ran 4 unconferences in the cities of Bristol, London, Coventry and Bradford. I attended the London one on behalf of Digital First.

The unconferences were designed to bring together professionals from the local government digital sector to discuss common challenges for people working in the sector. They were also put on to foster collaboration and to encourage more councils to sign up to the Local Government Digital Declaration (LGDD). The Declaration was launched in January 2018 and already has 145 signatories.

Before we broke out into groups to discuss topics suggested by the delegates the LGDCU project and technical leads talked about their goals. There was heavy emphasis on their role in facilitating collaboration and shared fundings.

The talks covered Local Digital Fund (LDF) support for digital collaboration projects, free GDS academy training credits for LGDD signatories, the 16 projects currently in flight (10 discovery, 6 alpha) under the Unit’s supervision and Pipeline as a place to open source and share builds. There was also a very cool talk by the digital guys from Barking and Dagenham on their Social Progress Index.

The topics that were covered in the breakout sessions can be seen in the following graphic.

LGUnconference.jpg

Too many to attend them all!

I chose to attend sessions on data and APIs, how to gain leader support for digital transformation, successful digital delivery and procurement decisions.

From a Digital First perspective it was great to hear other councils talking positively about the design pattern library we have created to guide our web and app builds and have now opened up for others to share.  It was also great to talk to Bloomberg’s smart city representatives who were very interested in our IoT housing sensor project.

Coming back to Brighton and Hove I felt enthused about what is happening in local government digital and will recommending that our council sign up to the Declaration at the earliest opportunity.

Follow LGDCU at LDGovUK and #fixtheplumbing #localdigitalfund

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!