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GOV.UK local digital dashboard prototype is live

April 24, 2014

Our GOV.UK local digital dashboard prototype is now live!

I recently blogged about plans to use the “digital assets” of GDS in Local digital service. The plan is to start with a dashboard of existing transactions and then build from that into enhancing local digital services and extending their range.

We agreed the plan on 5th of February and published the first dashboard just 9 weeks later on 9th April.

Here it is:

Dashboard prototype


Local user experience

For consistent user experience (and to avoid re-inventing the wheel) we are publishing all the information on the single GOV.UK  Performance Platform, where all the central government digital information is being published.

To make it local, we are starting with one local authority (Solihull) and one transaction (reporting a missed bin). We’ll then build out from there to other transactions and other authorities.


Its interesting to note that the digital channel trend follows the non-digital trend quite closely, as it does with many of the other transactions shown on the performance dashboard. Next step is to shift more traffic to digital channels. And, more importantly to use digital to drive down demand, as described below.

More Local – next steps

There is lots more that we want to achieve with this missed bins dashboard, particularly in making the information more local. The next piece of work for this dashboard is to be able to drill down to show the information at a ward and a street level. That makes it more meaningful to citizens and helps service managers continuously deliver improvements.

Transparent information

Most authorities use this sort of information in service management and aim to miss no more than 56 bins for every 100,000 collected. But we don’t usually publish this in a very accessible way in most local government authorities. So we want to update the dashboard to report on this measure.

This will help citizens understand how good their service is, compared to others in the borough, or beyond. It also helps service managers to ensure their providers are delivering well.

Demand Management beats channel shift

Local authority service managers are continuously looking for ways to treat causes rather than symptoms and reduce demand for costly services.

One important factor to concentrate on is “failure demand”. When an organisation gets things wrong, it creates more work without creating more revenue. So its important to ensure the business process minimises the amount of failure demand. That’s important in any process oriented industry – manufacturing does not want to recall products; local authorities do not want to have to collect bins they have missed.

Some bin collection teams consistently deliver a high collection rate in all the streets on their round, but are consistently poor in one or two locations. Often this is because poor architecture on an old estate makes it hard for the residents to place their bins in a location that the collectors will find them. Having that conversation with residents is difficult, without good evidence. This dashboard will make it easier to agree with citizens how they will present their bins so that they can easily be collected.

At Solihull we have also put business process and digital measures in place (with in-cab technologies) that reduced the number of claimed missed bins by 75%. This dashboard should drive demand down still further.

This means that fewer bins will be missed. Shifting the reporting of a missed bin from the phone to a digital channel saves about £5.00 per transaction. Taking out failure demand – ie not having a missed bin to collect in the first place saves about £50 per transaction.

So demand management easily trumps channel shift, but both are important and both can be digitally enabled.

Beyond bins

Until we spoke in more detail with the service managers, we were not expecting the demand management benefit from the dashboard. Now I’ m looking forward to developing the next transactions with other authorities and finding out where else open digital reporting will add value.

I’ve been really pleased with the number of people who have wanted to be part of the next steps.  As well as the Socitm and Local CIO Council enthusiasts, I am expecting the next phases to include authorities with digital leadership from #localgovdigital and Better Connected. The DCLG has expressed interest, as has the LGA with the standard service list  and other standards. Local government delivers over 1,000 services, ranging from “abandoned bicycles” to “zoo licences”. There is plenty of opportunity for digital (and digitally informed “evidence based decision making”) in that mix. People from the third sector and other local public service organisations have also expressed interests, that I am sure we can accommodate.

We all share the same ambitions for Digital in Local Public Service; pulling together we can and will make substantial and positive impacts on the services we provide and on the lives of people who consume those services.

Exciting and transformative digital times are ahead.



Many thanks to Matt Harrington and Tom Halloran at GDS and Craig Hevey at Solihull Council for this prototype digital dashboard delivery.

  1. Edward permalink

    I’m a little confused, how will;

    “This dashboard make it easier to agree with citizens how they will present their bins so that they can easily be collected.”?

    • Edward,

      This is about having clear, evidence based conversations.

      There are two scenarios for missed bins. Scenario 1 is that the collection service is poor and overlooked the bin. We simply did not pick it up and empty it.

      Scenario 2 is that the bin collection service is good but the resident did not present their bin clearly, accessibly and on time.

      Some national analysis suggests that the majority of missed bins are actually scenario 2.

      When you talk to a customer in scenario 2, who is complaining about a missed bin, it is really hard to say to them that the bin was not available. We have “in cab technology” that reports on bins not presented, to help with this.

      Additionally, particularly with some consistently missed bins, having data to show we are really good at collecting bins in all areas except this one, will facilitiate a better “evidence based” conversation about how to present the bin.

  2. Edward permalink


    Thank you for your quick reply. I see now that the text I quoted was referring to the future dashboard where you can drilldown to street level data, not the current dashboard linked. That makes sense, thanks.

    Please be mindful that my council already provides this service, however the information presented on their website is worthless. For example their data says that my green and blue bins were not collected on 18th April when I watched them do it personally.

    Please do not waste time developing such systems when the contractors cannot be trusted to report accurate information.

    • Edward, let’s hope that making the data more open, transparent and auditable will ensure we get better services – and more accurate data – from our contractors.

  3. Matthew permalink

    You say that a digital report saves £5 compared to a report by phone. Whose budget is saved, the service area or customer services ? And what have they spent that money on instead?

    Or is the saving imaginary, like the emperors new clothes?

    • Matthew, the channel shift savings are well documented. Here’s a report quoting consultants PWC, Socitm and Martha Lane Fox:

      The savings are real reductions in processing costs. The budget where the savings are made depends on the organisations delivery model, but it’s often largely in customer contact services. The money saved either contributes to austerity savings targets, or is used to enable other important services. Broadly speaking though, it’s the tax payer who benefits when public sector reduces costs.

      • Matthew permalink

        Those figures are widely circulated, but always misunderstood. A volume analysis of transaction costs leads to a per transaction figure, but it is erroneous to then use that figure to claim a saving. Whenever I ask where the saving is, it always disappears in a general statement on behalf of the wider sector, as you have done.

        If you are claiming the saving at Solihull, where is it in your annual budget? When I phone you up, who pays the £5? Are you really saying that Solihull have cut council tax as a result of these savings?

      • That’s an interesting perspective Matthew. These cost reductions don’t necessarily materialise in a specific budget, but are nonetheless worth having. It’s like insulating your loft to save on your energy consumption. What did you specifically spend the saving on?
        Or, like driving out process waste with Lean. Toyota have become market leaders with this – but don’t feel it necessary to account for all cost avoidance savings from specific budget alterations. Here’s a good example from Boeing:
        It’s about “Lean” not “Digital”, but the same cost reduction savings principles apply, I think.

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