The GOV.UK local performance platform phase 2 kick off took place on the 9th June at the GDS offices in Holborn. There was a lively discussion, with great contributions from all participants. We had set ourselves an objective of identifying three new digital transactions to present on the Performance Platform and this is exactly what we achieved.
The hardest part was reducing the selection to three transactions – the long term vision is for very many transactions, but we’ll get there in manageable steps.
The next three digital transactions for the performance Platform are:
1) Renew a Library Book
This will be led by Warwickshire County Council and Kate Sahota. Once developed, the other phase 2 authorities with Libraries will also provide data.
This one has a vast number of digital transactions across local government with a growing digital engagement. It will be great to evidence this with some real time facts and figures.
2) Pay Council Tax
This will be developed by East Riding of Yorkshire and Amanda Wilde. And we’ll all provide more data when its ready.
Paying Council Tax is interesting as digital payments are received through many channels, including direct debits, web payments and other transactions, so there is much to think about in the design and data collection for this one!
3) Renew a transport Concession
Cambridgeshire County Council and John Platten will lead on this. This is about the allocation of bus passes and related travel concessions for students and the elderly. Some authorities do this directly and others do this via Passenger Transport Executive (PTE). Some PTE’s cover more than one authority, so lots to think about with this one too.
We also will be extending the missed bins dashboard:
4) Missed bins data from all Phase 2 authorities who have this service.
The authorities represented in Phase 2 are:
· Nottingham City Council
· Nottinghamshire County Council
· Kirklees Council
· Warwickshire County Council
· East Riding of Yorkshire Council
· Surrey County Council
· Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council
Other authorities had expressed a desire to be there and there will be plenty of further opportunities in the near future.
Two other main debates were aired at the kick off. One is around whether we should limit ourselves to transactions or include performance information about non-transactional digital services as well. For instance, as well as applying for a school (which is a transcation), citizens will use digital channels to find out more about schools and the entry process as well. Most thought that information provisioning was an important component of digital delivery, but its hard to evidence that a user has found the information they needed. We’ll come back to that in a later stage.
The second debate is around whether we should limit ourselves to performance data associated with digital channel use, or also extend to include service performance data as well. There are good arguments on both sides of this one, and we’ll be consulting more widely with service managers and users to help develop the strategy.
We now go into an agile sprint to develop the dashboards and data selection for these transactions.
There is a DCLG Hot Topic event on 16th July, as part of the Local Digital Campaign, at which we will discuss progress with these four transactions, and set out the vision for further deployment of GDS assets in Local. This will be amongst the opportunities to continue the debates and shape the designs with input from attendees.
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.
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 gov.uk 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.
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.
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.
I’m really pleased with what our web team has produced this year. We have replaced our Internet and Intranet sites with minimal costs and delivered something that is as good as I have seen anywhere in Local Government.
Our new site at solihull.gov.uk is:
- User focussed in its design
- Adaptive to mobile devices
- Open Source in its technology
- Transaction oriented
The Intranet site is all that plus:
- Dripping with social media
And all of that for just under £150K for the pair (plus some staff time). That’s £100K on hardware and page authors, £40K on software and £10K on “other” (including a grand total of £4K on consultancy).
At around £75K for our council’s web site, we think that’s excellent Value for Money.
We did all the design, development and testing in house, with a virtual team that included the Customer Contact Service, internal directorates, Communications, ICT and of course, users.
Our design is inspired by other local authority sites we liked and from those doing well in the “Better Connected” review. It was very important for us to have the digital transactions that citizens most commonly use right at the front of the website.
For technical readers, we have gone for the Open Source digital solution Evoq from DNN Software (formerly “DotNetNuke”). Evoq is one of the top five OpenSource web tools available.
We liked DNN because it fits with our .net & C# technical architecture. It also has an option to procure enterprise support, which is important for a small metropolitan borough.
So both sites are live now, and we continue to develop and enhance (the perpetual beta).
We would be delighted to give away everything we have done to anyone else who wants to use it.
[Update: The first prototype is now live. More here.]
We are about to deliver some local digital dashboards with GDS, the central Government Digital Service. There is much that Local and Central Government can achieve together with Digital. So we are learning how to collaborate more. And the best way of achieving that kind of learning is by delivering something of value.
Digital means many things to many people, but for this project we will be focussing on “transactional” digital. The ability for citizens to transact with government over the internet.
The development of Digital in Local Government is well advanced. Most councils have many years of experience delivering great web sites with transactional services for a good chunk of services where digital is relevant. Of the 900 or so services that a council operates, at least 100 of them are suitable for digital transactions.
Many services, are not ideal for transactional digital – like delivering adult social care and teaching children. But the 10% or so of council services that are good for digital transactions should be done really well.
The GDS objective of “digital services so good that people prefer to use them”, is a good target that drives down cost and improves customer satisfaction. GDS is gathering digital transactions on the Gov.UK website, “the best place to find government services and information”.
Socitm and GDS leaders met up to decide what we could most usefully work on together. GDS have produced many “digital assets” and we wanted to identify the best ways of making use of them in Local Government. We agreed that understanding the data is a great place to start. If we collected data about local government digital transactions, it would tell us more about where to focus our digital efforts.
So this is what we are going to do. We’ll gather data from Local Government systems and display it in the GDS performance platform. We’ll do this in three main phases.
In phase 1, we’ll take one transaction from one local authority and display some simple KPI’s for them. This is scheduled for April 2014, for Solihull Council’s “report a missed bin” transaction. Then we’ll look at what we have produced and what we have learned.
In phase 2, we’ll take a dozen more authorities and develop this first transaction reporting with their data. Then we’ll take three more transactions and develop those for these dozen authorities. Not all authorities deliver all services, so we will only display charts where there is relevant service data.
So when we start phase 3, we’ll already have 4 transactions well developed and displayed on the performance platform. We’ll also have worked out the governance to ensure we can agree what data to collect and how to display it. In phase 3, we’ll invite more authorities to develop more transactions. I’m sure we’ll learn a lot as we do this, so we may change the plan as we go.
Its a technically simple project, but ambitious in its scope. The people, process and culture challenges will need to be understood. Conceptually though its simple enough to show it on a single picture.
The vision is to encourage all authorities provide their digital transaction data to a single GDS performance platform where it can be displayed in a consistent and comparative way.
The purpose and values include the following and will be developed and enhanced through the project.
- Information rich digital service design
- Process performance behaviour improvements
- Service efficiency
- Customer satisfaction
- Transparency and open data
- KPI / Benchmarks
- Cost reduction
As well as this, its the learning that we will achieve from working together that I hope will be of particular value. The projects that follow from the dashboard are yet to be identified, of course. But we do expect that they will be well informed, becuase we will have learned from the dashboard project.