Raising the Platform | 2020 weeknote number 3

henry lewis
Feb 6 · 4 min read

Parallel Lines

Highlights of the past week

Many and varied conversations about digital connectivity

I have spent a lot of time over the past week talking to people about our digital connectivity programme. I have met with:

  • The mayor and lead members to provide an overview of our plans and the progress we have made. They were very pleased and I will be sharing my note to them on our HackIT G+ community
  • Various housing colleagues to talk about how we remove barriers and drive forward our delivery plans. Improving connectivity in social housing is central to our programme
  • Telecommunications companies that want to work with us to improve services in Hackney
  • Housing tenants; who are very pleased that they will soon have the opportunity to benefit from affordable, full fibre internet services but who worry about mobile operators’ plans to install 5G equipment on rooftops

In all of this I have had fantastic support from Samir, from service colleagues and from our GIS team, who continue to provide data and analytical support to the project. The GIS team demonstrated, for example, that mobile operators have installed 80 percent of their equipment on private sector buildings and 20 percent on public sector buildings in Hackney and that this percentage coincides almost exactly with the proportion of viable buildings (those at least 3 stories tall with flat roofs) in private as opposed to public ownership. This is important because housing tenants worry that they are being singled out by operators and targeted where new 5G installations are concerned. This analysis might help to demonstrate that isn’t the case.

Plans to integrate Hackney Learning Trust IT services with HackIT services

This work is now properly underway. As product owner I will be working with Bertie Savan, Ollie Parrish and Bea our delivery manager to agree a vision for the project which I will share with all of our teams next week. I will also be doing a separate week note setting out our plans in more detail.

We will be doing a formal launch with all Hackney Learning Trust IT staff when we will talk about this project, our plans to migrate HLT to G Suite and Bertie’s plans for supporting schools. More than anything this will give the HLT IT Team a chance to ask questions. I am sure there will be things that they are worried about and I want to provide an early opportunity for people to voice their concerns so we can allay fears and start to talk about the opportunities that bringing the teams together will generate.

Improving the way we report from Active Directory

This week we also completed our Minimum Viable Product on re-naming and re-classifying data in Active Directory. This sounds like a really dull thing to set out to do, but it helped us in ways that we did not expect. We thought that if we reported better then:

  • Users would be able to answer more of their important questions about the data
  • We could foster better understanding, help people to value data driven decision making and increase the likelihood of generating better quality data in the future

We were able to deliver the value we anticipated from the MVP. We also gained other insights, not least that we lacked clear business rules to explain when, for example, we should disable accounts or delete them. It was only by thinking hard about how to answer user questions and the data required to do so that we were able to identify the need for clearer business rules.

My Challenges

Nothing new in particular to report regarding my challenges this week. I am fulfilling my quest to produce a weeknote every week. I have been in a good mood and I plan to write about what I have learned from the DevOps book I am reading in next week’s note. So as there is so little to say I am going to revisit a theme from my weeknotes before Christmas and write about an amazing colleague. This will not be a regular feature but may be resurrected from time to time if I can’t think of anything else diverting to say.

Amazing colleague fact

This colleague is well known to everyone in HackIT. I am going to refer to him as “Mr Perpendicular” because when asked for his view on what a new HackIT manifesto principle might be, “be perpendicular” was his response.

While I have come across people with similar personality traits in the past, Mr Perpendicular demonstrates a commitment to structure, classification and conformity which goes beyond what is normal. His style guide should be mandatory reading for all new recruits at HackIT and his influence can be seen everywhere from the evenly spaced and perfectly aligned post it notes on our walls to the design choices we make when purchasing devices (aspect ratios and bezels are very important)! Generous and courteous, he will happily discuss the chronology of android names from Cupcake to Kitkat with anyone who shows an interest or leap to support colleagues with his trusty spirit level app. He is much admired while also sometimes teased, behaviour which he encourages, to his great credit.

Next week I am looking forward to

  • A week with fewer meetings in it than normal. An opportunity to catch up and progress some things I am blocking
  • Meeting the Hackney Learning Trust IT Team

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