Local Digital
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Local Digital

Sprint Notes #24

Covering 17 March — 11 May 2021

Welcome back to our team sprint notes! We’ve just come out of the pre-election period and want to share a bumper update on what the team has been up to over the past few weeks.

Choose your own FutureLearn funded courses

New training opportunity: choose-your-own FutureLearn course

Earlier this year we launched a virtual library of digital skills training courses for local government, based on the needs of local government staff. From the training library, you can choose from free courses, paid-for courses and courses that are funded by LDCU.

We’re now giving you the opportunity to take any FutureLearn short course that might benefit your personal and career development — funded by us.

Visit our website to find out more and apply for a FutureLearn course of your choosing.

Meet our new team members

In April we were joined by two new members of staff, so please welcome Charlotte Allen and Charlotte Barnes to the team! Here’s a bit more about them:

Charlotte Barnes

Charlotte Barnes
  • Job title: Project and Admin Support Officer
  • What do you do? I work for the Local Digital Collaboration Unit, supporting on projects and also dealing with the team’s finances and admin tasks
  • Contact email: charlotteb@localdigital.gov.uk
  • Currently based: Truro
  • From: Cornwall
  • Background: 15 years in the Civil Service in various roles. Most recently as a PA and a Work Coach in the DWP
  • Favourite meal: A Sunday Roast
  • Things I do to relax: Taking my dogs for a walk on the beach. I love to find a secluded beach — the more off the beaten track the better
  • Ideal retirement plan: A round the world cruise. I would then like to be able to foster/adopt dogs, so would need a house/garden big enough to care for them all.

Charlotte Allen

Charlotte Allen
  • Job title: Content Producer
  • What do you do? As part of the comms team I support the LDCU by creating content for our platforms, promoting the teams projects and progress and organising key events
  • Contact email: charlottea@localdigital.gov.uk
  • Currently based: Bristol
  • From: Everywhere! I spent my teenage years in Newcastle Upon Tyne (I am without the Geordie accent, unfortunately)
  • Background: In my past life before the civil service, I worked in inquest and criminal law before becoming an English Teacher in Secondary Education. Civil service life has been in Homes England, where I worked in the Land Teams and Comms teams.
  • Favourite meal: Veg tacos, homemade salsa, guacamole and cheese
  • Things I do to relax: Hiking, making my own clothes and being part of a samba band
  • Ideal retirement plan: Would love to do a PhD, become a professional seamstress and do frequent month long visits to hot countries. Better start saving now.

Funded projects

It’s been a while since we shared an update on our funded projects, so the progress reports below cover their activity since 17 March.

Reducing Invalid Planning Applications (RIPA)

The RIPA project has been steaming ahead with their preparations for private beta go live for permitted development planning applications. They’ve worked on a number of things, including:

  • final iterations of the application system
  • user research and user testing with planners and non-planners
  • benefits metrics to be tracked post- and pre-private beta go live
  • recruitment for a content designer
  • legislation review with MHCLG
  • security and infrastructure review with the Cabinet Office

In partnership with the BOPS project, they also presented their work at the Planning Officer Society meeting, where they spoke about project vision and gathered feedback.

To catch up on what the project has been up to during the pre-election period, check out the recordings of their show and tells and keep an eye on their Twitter for details of the next one!

Back Office Planning System (BOPS)

The project had a busy pre-election period, where they worked on making final tweaks to the system that allows them to accept permitted development planning applications.

They also started gathering requirements for the full householder planning applications through a series of workshops.

They also worked on:

  • requesting to go live with GOV.UK Notify and integration with GOV.UK Pay
  • setting up staging environments for all of their partners
  • working on a number of non-development items that include Data Protection assessment
  • carrying on with minor system improvements (including UAT)
  • delivering a presentation at ‘Urban Design London’ on the future of planning data

You can read more about the project in this blog post by TechUK and visit their website to watch past show and tell recordings.

A howbusyistoon.com project show and tell.

How Busy Is Toon (HBIT)

The project kicked off their next delivery stage just before the pre-election period started. They re-procured Hedgehog Labs as their delivery partner and got to work on:

  • a user needs session where they prioritised user needs for ‘easy access to information’ — this work will continue as the project starts thinking of potential solutions
  • hosting a show & tell for internal stakeholders
  • a user survey to capture resident preferences on using transport to commute into and from the city centre, which resulted in over 300 responses
  • a session to look through the GOV.UK Design System to identify which styles, components or patterns could be reused to make howbusyistoon.com more user friendly
  • scaling / onboarding workstream — the team started drafting an onboarding guide, changed the emoticon questions on the website and tracked how user engagement changes as lockdown measures are eased

They also held a number of user research sessions with residents as well as their first user research synthesis session, during which they identified themes as driving factors people consider when deciding what transport to use.

This was followed by affinity mapping, identifying user personas, and user research and ideation sessions that helped them look at the available data to prove or disprove hypotheses.

A tweet from howbusyistoon’s Jenny Nelson

Income Management System (IMS)

The project now has a beta phase page on Local Digital website!

During the pre-election period, the project discussed how they might be able to progress in the beta stage with open source, governance and ways of working activities.

They also set up Trello / Slack to track preparation activities and are currently working on procurement. Get in touch with hello@localgovims.digital if you’d like to be involved in the next stage of delivery.

Housing Repairs

Currently working on their procurement activities, the team met with the Crown Commercial Service (CCS). They wanted to ensure the supplier opportunity they’re writing is relevant to the Beta phase and would like to finalise it in the next few weeks.

The project is also starting to hold regular catch ups with the team (every other Friday) where they discuss increasing sector engagement, the roadmap and getting more people involved in the project.

Get in touch with fraser.trickett@lincoln.gov.uk if you’d like to be involved in the next stage of delivery.

Digital Place Based Engagement

The project has completed end-of-project stage activities and want to:

  • ensure all show and tell recordings are published in the open
  • kick off with procurement activities

The project also joined up with BOPS to discuss who’s going to be working on aspects of consultations going forward.

Finally, the project also met with Commonplace to hear about their research on digital planning notices. Both projects shared their insights and agreed to collaborate more closely in the future.

Read more about the project’s previous phase in this blog post from FutureGov. If you’d like to be part of the next stage of delivery, contact digitalplanning@camden.gov.uk.

A tweet from the Digital Place Based Engagement project.

Open Referral UK (ORUK)

Open Referral UK is at the mid-way point of its funded beta phase and has been very busy during the pre-election period.

ORUK is a data standard for human services information and underpins local service directories. Better quality service data enables residents and council staff to reach the right services in their locality more quickly, and can be vital in ensuring that people don’t fall into crisis.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy-to-digest summary, then start with this excellent explainer video.

This phase of work aims to drive adoption of the standard. Central to this is a new website that responds to the needs of potential adopters by providing guidance, eight detailed case studies, and a community forum for those interested in finding out more.

The team have run a series of show and tells over the past two months, available to watch on YouTube. Read a summary of their work to date in this project overview report from the project’s supplier, Snook.

A crucial step for the standard going forward is formal endorsement via the Data Standards Authority. You can now read, review and feedback on the data standard challenge.

Contact the team directly to find out how the standard could benefit your organisation.

LocalGov Drupal

The project recently started their funded beta phase of work, and the community has continued to be active over the past six months.

11 councils have now signed the MoU to adopt the shared codebase for local government websites, with representatives attending fortnightly product group meet-ups and sharing features they have developed with others. Croydon have completed the switch to LocalGov Drupal and have now turned off their old website entirely.

The team are running regular skills sessions for council web publishes. Recent sessions (available to watch on YouTube) have covered using GitHub, accessibility, and GDPR and cookies.

The project also featured in an international report on government software cooperatives and a dedicated case study by the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory.

Digital Inclusion Toolkit

The team have kicked off planning for the next phase. They held a user mapping session where they began to add clarity to their audiences’ needs and preferences.

The project team successfully presented to 7 regional Digital Skills Partnership coordinators and made some useful connections that will add value to their work going forward.

Future Work Design

The Future Work Design project team began their next phase of work by publishing a new blog post, ‘The Start of Future Work Design: Phase Two’, on their website.

The team are working with Microsoft and have identified the tools that will support them in their next phase of research. The pilot groups for this research are currently being defined and the next stage will be participant recruitment.

Societal Early Needs App (SENA)

Work is underway at Huntingdonshire with the appointment of their delivery partners, Placecube and Unboxed.

Join up meetings have also been held with the SAVVI project. Huntingdonshire will be piloting using the SAVVI playbook and standards as they progress with their own project.

The team have launched a dedicated project microsite where you can follow along with progress.

Scalable Approach to Vulnerability via Interoperability (SAVVI)

The SAVVI project is well underway. The project is recruiting for the SAVVI Coach roles and experts that will develop the standards and resources further, to help them with the next phase of work.

Kick off meetings have been held with Huntingdonshire and North Yorkshire County Councils, the two main councils they are working with for their pilots.

SENA will be working through the SAVVI Playbook as the basis for case studies for future councils looking to adopt the SAVVI standards.

Thanks for reading! For the daily download on all things #LocalDigital, be sure to follow us on Twitter.

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