On stage, under the spotlight

Last Tuesday, Khalid, our Mendix lead, and I stepped out of our comfort zone and on to the stage for a question and answer session at a Mendix event in London.

Mendix is the low code platform that we are using to develop our digital services. We have been building up our in-house skills gradually under Khalid’s watchful eye. Khalid has previously worked with Mendix in the financial services sector.

The team at Mendix invited us to the event to talk about our experience at Brighton & Hove City Council – warts and all.  We were on stage with John from Knowsley Council who also use the same platform.

John, Khalid nor I, would normally seek out the limelight, so this was very much a case of doing something that makes us uncomfortable, to challenge ourselves.

Before we went up, and in typical tech style, we both looked at the heart rate monitors on our watches. Interestingly, my heart rate was 64 and Khalid’s was 113, perhaps I was born for the big stage after all!

image (1)

We answered questions about Digital First’s successes so far, like Report a Problem, and how we user test in the library. We also talked about building an academy to train staff and increase the number of Mendix developers in the UK.

All in all, we coped well with the questions and audience feedback was good.

The day ended with a dinner discussion around digital transformation, where there were guests from many public and not for profit organisations. There was also a lively discussion about the way forward, which has been covered in the Nimbus Ninety blog.

Without the spotlight on us, we were most definitely back in our comfort zone.

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.

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