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.

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

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

What’s new in Sprint 7

At the end of every sprint one of our team posts about the work we’ve completed. This time round, dear reader, that honour falls to me.

A few people were on holiday this sprint, but it was still pretty action packed:

  • We’ve built a private beta for schools admissions and intend to show it to a group of parents next sprint. Right now it allows them to add children and pick 1st, 2nd and 3rd place preference schools. It also shows schools in your catchment area, and the nearest school based on walking distance
  • Our new parking zones map got a few tweaks. In addition to search for a zone by postcode, it’s now possible to see the map of all zones up front and click around the zones to get useful information. These new features will be live very soon
  • Our blog (as in this page you’re reading) got a facelift. It now looks like our new work-in-progress website design, and we’ll keep tweaking based on your feedback
  • Garden waste now has a new suite of reports showing, primarily, new customers and renewals. Our team and Cityclean colleagues are working closely together to get the most out of the numbers we collect. That’s worth a blog post of its own
  • While we’re talking about Cityclean, there’s now a new kanban wall at the Hollingdean depot (see a pic below). It’s part of our plan to co-locate with our services as far as possible. We’re breaking down silos, but adding walls *gets coat*
  • Getting the right working environment is really important to us, and we took a small step forward this sprint. Our digs at Jubilee Library now has more stools to sit on, and a huge whiteboard for collaborative working. We ran our first session around the whiteboard yesterday and it worked really well

That’s all for this sprint, so see you in two weeks. If you’re finding these updates useful or would like us to change anything please post.

Our new wall at Cityclean