Bridging the digital skills divide weeknote 22/09/20

30s read

  • Reserve your spot at our Dragon’s Den event with LOTI at DigiLeaders, and grab some inspiration from others on how to close the digital divide
  • Check out our Digital buddies website for buddies, beneficiaries and schools keen to learn more about the programme
  • Digital skills is popping up all over the borough following our publicity drive, and it’s paying off not only with residents but with referrals coming from the health sector
  • We’re looking towards how we can render this programme of work sustainable in the longer term

3min read

LOTI Dragon’s Den at DigiLeaders

Our Dragons’ Den event with LOTI at DigiLeaders is scheduled for 12-2pm on 14 October – get the date in your diaries and reserve your spot! The aim is for boroughs and organisations to share great products and projects they have proved work, and package them up for reuse by others. This way we can all get a leg up when trying to stand on the shoulders of giants. 

Southwark, Brent, Lambeth and, of course, Hackney are confirmed and we’ve got another 5 or 6 waiting in the wings. Really looking forward to this one, even though it’ll be virtual rather than in an East London warehouse with Deborah Meaden.

Digital buddies

We’re ramping up promotion of the Digital buddies programme to attract those in need of a buddy (‘beneficiaries’), by engaging with organisations working with older residents. We know there are a number of social groups and lunch clubs whose participants would jump at this service and we’ll be leveraging our existing relationships to get Digital buddies on their radar.

Similarly, Meg has briefed social prescribers about the scheme and we’re looking forward to working with them and seeing them ‘prescribe’ Digital buddies for those patients who warrant a one-to-one approach.

We’ve created a Google site for buddies, beneficiaries and schools who may be interested in participating in Digital buddies. Having everything in one place (including the risk assessment Lynn’s just drafted for schools), makes it easier for people to learn more about the programme before signing up, and gives us a consistent place to signpost to in our publicity and comms. 

We know what we’re doing is working as buddies and beneficiaries who’ve gone through the programme have told us via their evaluations. With that knowledge in hand, we’re now working on a plan to render Digital buddies sustainable in the longer term. 

Digital skills

On Digital skills, we’ve added some more signposting links including to Learnmyway and Makeitclick who are creating content for the digitally-challenged amongst us. Which is probably all of us at some point. I still can’t find Apple TV via the remote and I’m delivering a Digital Divide project for goodness sake!

We now have flyers and posters advertising the Digital skills page in Morrison’s, on estate notice boards, on posters in the HSC lobby and going out with new and refurb’ed devices from Hackney Council, Hackney Quest and Wick Award, Plus, as of last Saturday’s 11km walk around the back streets of Hackney, in one or two pharmacies. Next stop: park notice boards and the mobile library. 

Plus, due to Meg’s relentless publicity tour, we now have CCG, assistive technology and social prescribing teams referring patients to Digital skills should they be in need of a boost in tech know-how.

We are working with Comms on a campaign that will include press releases, posters in bus stops and active social media engagement to encourage click-throughs to our content.

As with Digital buddies, we need to consider the longer term options for our Digital skills page. Do we continue to scale with more content for different audiences – or do we step away? We’ll be discussing options with potential funders in the next couple of weeks.

As ever, get in touch via, or if you want to be added to or removed from the mailing list. Read our backstory on the HackIT blog.

Finding support services weeknote 21/09/20

tl;dr (Too Long; Didn’t Read)…

  • GDS Assessment complete and we are good to go (wahoo)
  • We’re upskilling ourselves using expertise from within our own team
  • Getting ready for launch including; comms, implementing recommendations from our GDS Assessment and delivering on time (and within budget!)
  • We are recruiting an individual from the Hackney redeployment scheme to support this project post go-live (take a look and get in touch)

And the detail

GDS Assessment complete and we are good to go (wahoo)

This is important. A GDS Assessment, for those that don’t know, is an assessment to ensure a digital product/ service has been designed using best-practice principles set by the government before it is delivered. The Digital Service Standard is a set of 18 criteria to help the government create and run good digital services. It helps digital teams to build services that are simple, clear and fast (and prevents any delays to delivery if your assessment goes well). It also ensures that the product is accessible and at a suitable standard for the end-users (most important). 

Some high level feedback from our assessors:

“really impressed by the way that you identified your problem and dealt with a diverse set of user groups with competing needs”

“You delivered [the MVP] at pace [due to Covid] but used it intelligently as an opportunity to gather data and insight from your users to build an improved service”

“Our [main] recommendation would be to conduct some [more] accessibility checks”

“[You’ve] reused standards, technologies and components from existing approaches [and made] sensible decisions around security and monitoring”

Here is a photo of us on ours last week! 

We’re upskilling ourselves 

When we have a multidisciplinary team full of wonderfully talented people, why shouldn’t we share our skills with each other? Exactly. We’d done just that with the Find support services comms plan. 

We acknowledge that communications and engagement is key to ensure this product remains front of mind for our end-users. We have to put the leg work in for this, especially at first. 

On that note, we have a monthly communications plan (guidance has been received from Hackney Council comms and the C&H Integrated Care Partnership comms leads). It’s a mix of internal (newsletters) and external (Twitter/ Case studies & other) comms channels where a member of the team is allocated a week to own and deliver. 

We have received great feedback from VCSOs about how much they are enjoying and find values in our weekly ‘spotlight on’ Twitter posts (case studies). So here’s our latest… 

(if you know of anyone, a VCSO or a colleague that may be interested in featuring, please get in touch)

Oh and we are also doing a lot of offline marketing (see Susan’s latest weeknote for info on this) and we’re not stopping. Susan cycled over and dropped off 40 posters to the team responsible for pinning new and updating the notice boards in estates. 

Getting ready for launch

There are three key things we are doing.

  1. Planning a comms launch plan with Hackney Council and City of London comms teams 
  2. Implement recommendations from the GDS Assessment 
  3. Ensure we are delivering our product on time and within budget (thanks to Nudge for being so transparent on this!)

There are, of course, many other things we need to do in the run up to launch. For example, do a copy sweep of the sites to make sure of our style and consistency; and ensure the whole shebang is secure. To the latter, we’ve already checked in with our in-house security team (aka Mac) and the urls have been added to the fortnightly security scanning list so any issues should be picked up pronto.

Even though launch is looming… we are still learning and iterating 

The full-time project admin we are securing funding on (thank you Prevention team for your ongoing support on this) is going to take a little longer than anticipated (no-one’s fault, just how timelines have worked out!). As such, we are recruiting an individual from the Hackney redeployment scheme to tide us over and into the New Year. Watch this space. If you’re interested, take a look and get in touch. 

We are starting to retire iCare formally and it is proving to be a little more tricky to pin everything down than expected. Which is ok as we have time, but we it’s an important learning. Any ICT Contracts should be added to the ICT Contract register. Note to self and all other HackIT projects moving forward!

I could keep going but you will be asleep by the time I finish. So I will stop there.

As always, questions, comments and feedback are welcome. Just drop us a line.

Until next time,


The dev team – Manage Arrears Weeknotes – W/C 07.09.2020

Purpose of these weeknotes

To give a little attention to the Manage Arrears dev team who have been smashing it since May, often in tricky circumstances and a complex subject area. 

Looking back on previous weeknotes I haven’t really spoken that much about the team themselves. I have spoken a lot about what they’ve done and challenges and how they’ve overcome them but not really about them as a team, who they are and what they’ve been like to work with.

I think this is partly a result of working fully remotely. Not having those normal face to face interactions, which provide a bit of texture to the memories that we have over the course of a week. So in these weeknotes I’m gonna set out who is in the team and set out who is in the team and what they’ve done this week with a little more reference to the actual people involved than normal. 

The dev team 

A picture of interlinked paperclips. The middle one is red, which is not important for the purpose of this analogy.

So, our team is made up of some contractors from Made Tech, complemented by some people from Hackney. On the MadeTech side we have El, who has worked on two previous phases of Manage Arrears. She’s an old cynic when it comes to Manage Arrears, but knows where all the technical bodies are buried (and more importantly why we buried them there in the first place). 

We have Csaba, Ninamma and Antony who are new to this phase. Antony is the senior developer, who is always very calm and considered when taking us through his ideas. Csaba has been the star of many a live demo so far this phase. Although, he wouldn’t appreciate me pointing this out, as he normally thinks they’ve gone disastrously wrong. Ninamma has come on in leaps and bounds, has an A class gif game and has introduced me to the world of floating point number errors.

I’ve been really impressed by how focused the team is on self-improvement. They have been consistent in asking me for feedback with a persistence and enthusiasm I’ve not often experienced . Sometimes I’ve felt bad that I haven’t given as constructive feedback as I could’ve but that partly because I’ve been saying you should continue in the same vein, which no one wants to hear. 

They have been complimented on the Hackney side of things by Miles and Elaine. Miles is a Hackney apprentice developer, who was on the project last phase as well. Miles, despite his best efforts, is our resident letter template guru. He is an excellent addition to this team.  I hope he will be able to stay on this project in future phases to continue his learning, which everyone has been seriously impressed by.

Elaine has been on this project since day dot. I think she is the last person standing from phase 1, which is no mean feat. She is the font of all knowledge and wisdom when it comes to Universal Housing. On several occasions I’ve had to tell her to stop being so helpful to the rest of the service because she is the go-to person to ask UHW questions, such is her in-depth knowledge of workflows. 

Jenny and Liam, from FutureGov and Hackney respectively, have been involved in the design and research side of things. Jenny’s research and design of agreements was crucial in building momentum for it at the early stages. It would have been excellent to have had more of her time, but we were limited by budgets and logistics. 

We’ve worked with a number of different MadeTech delivery managers in this phase: Becks, Lu and Paul. Who’ve been incredibly supportive for me during this phase. We’ve also been supported by Ben Pirt, a technical architect, who has done a lot of work to make sure that our architecture is robust. 

This week

This week one of the key outputs was variable payments.

One of the key parts of this extension was allowing for Variable payments. This allows an officer to set an agreement with an initial lump sum followed by regular payment. Csaba as part of his ongoing crusade to deliver things more quickly confidently declared that a feature flag was completely unnecessary. This week he has been proven right and they have gone live! 🎉

We had a review of this functionality with a product owner and received feedback that our Agreements system is “easy-peasy” 🍋. I think we can all agree that is the highest compliment a system can receive.

Miles has continued to add court letters to the system. These additional letters were a key thing that we were looking to deliver during the extension. They are much more dynamic than the letters previously were, removing the need for officers to edit them themselves, speeding up the process and reducing the risk of errors. 

El also insisted that we improve the user journey by making court agreements and informal agreements more distinguishable. She has carried out minor changes to the UI to make this clearer. Addressing a regular user feedback for the service being slow, she implemented infinite scrolling so a case profile loads faster.

If I haven’t mentioned anyone it’s probably because they were quietly behind the scenes knocking out some fixes or improvement, that are important but unglamorous. 

Previous Show and Tells and weeknotes:

Show and tell 41 video / slides 02.09.2020

No weeknotes (DM on Annual Leave)

Show and tell 40 video / slides 19.08.2020

Weeknotes 5 W/C 10.08.2020

Show and tell 39 video / slides 05.08.2020

Weeknotes 4 W/C 27.07.2020

Show and tell 38 video / slides 22.07.2020

No weeknotes (DM on Annual Leave)

Show and tell 37 video / slides 08.07.2020

Weeknotes 3 W/C 29.06.2020

Show and tell 36 video / slides 24.06.2020

Weeknotes 2 W/C 15.06.2020

Show and tell 35 video / slides 10.05.2020

Weeknotes 1 W/C 01.06.2020

Show and tell 34 video / slides 27.05.2020

Repairs hub, weeknote 18/09/20

We started this week on a high, with an impressive 37 attendants at our show and tell. That’s a great turnout at such an early stage in the project, thank you to everyone who joined and please continue to do so. These are really valuable sessions, and although feedback so far has been positive we are aware we need to think about how to engage stakeholders a bit more.

Bukky joined us on Tuesday and has cracked on with the analysis of the platform API’s, the existing repairs API and the HACT data model. He has already identified that information relating to a property such as dwelling, description & levelcode could potentially be a candidate for a platform API. He and Evangelos will continue with this research and identifying gaps for new platform API’s or where existing ones could be extended. We’re meeting with the platform API team next week, our work will be closely aligned so not only is this an opportunity to understand their pipeline of work, but also for the teams to meet. There will be a lot of collaboration between us going forward, we think the repairs team will be responsible for identifying platform API needs and the platform API team will deliver on these, though I’m sure it won’t be as black and white as that in reality!

We interviewed the ELA (lift repairs) this week, and found their use really differs from many of the other contractors. The process is very manual, RCC agents raise the repair, take a screenshot, and email it over to the ELA, and if it’s a trapping or something urgent it’s also followed up with a phone call. They don’t pick up jobs from the UH worktray. There’s a whole process after a job has taken place where a list is compiled and emailed over to Hackney to add/check SOR codes, which is then sent back, and only then the administrators go into UH to mark the job as complete. Not only do we need to make this processes easier, we also need to consider each of those individual contracts, what has been agreed in terms of ways of working and whether we’ll need an additional agreement that all contractors will be required to use the hub.

There’s another user group that we’ve yet to talk to, the TMO (tenant managed organisation). The name is a bit of a give away, it’s a group of residents that manage their own repairs and have an agreement with Hackney council with their own cost codes and budget. We know that they use UH so we’ll need to ensure that they are contributing to finding solutions for the new extended hub. There are currently 10 TMO’s and they each manage their own estate, they make up approximately 1/3 of Hackney owned properties so are a large user group with valuable insights we’ll need to capture.


UH dev is still unavailable. It is a priority but the complexity around the recovery means we haven’t been given a timeframe as yet.

Stakeholder engagement is something we need to focus on. The interviews have been really useful, though we are finding varying levels of interest. Workload seems to be one of the biggest blockers, in some areas the person who performs a specific function is solely responsible so any time spent away could have an impact on their day. We will be engaging with the contractor managers next week, plus Paul Fowler is currently putting together a communication strategy for the UH decommission which will also support us in spreading the message on the importance of this project. We’ve got lots of ideas between us, we’re going to put our heads together next week to come up with a strategy.


– Platform API & Unboxed team introduction

– Stakeholder engagement brainstorm session

– Prototype testing with contractors

– Interviews: Finance, TMO, Alphatrack & Axis

– Platform API analysis

– User story writing for the POC

Multifunctional devices: Out with the old, in with the new Weeknote 18th September 2020

My First Weeknote – Arfan Nawazish

Greetings everyone,

I welcome myself to the Weeknoters community and I am hoping to extend my invitation for  some of us who have not been part of this culture to get involved.

I have personally understood the importance of weekenotes through looking back and reflecting on our past working weeks. It has helped me to look at my current working patterns, methods and highlighted areas for potential improvements and learning new ways to work totally on a digital platform. As well as highlighting the tenacious character of our team which I am really proud to be a part of, they are all really encouraging when you feel you need a push in the right direction. This is a great way to connect with colleagues and understand the different ways we can all work together,  whilst working from home. 

Our busy week went a little like this…

 Sharing our printers…a new beginning!

Confirmation of Deployment

Round 2 of Deployment at the Core Campus, we have confirmed dates!! We have allocated resources with Canon, LBH and Ceva for the whole week beginning the 5th October. All the information needed prior to delivery has been submitted and processed. We are ready…as Emma stated in her last weeknotes we have learned new ways of working together as a multi team by having a retrospective session with Canon helped us be more open and honest with each other which has benefited us all and shows commitment on both sides.

Communications will be sent out next week with registration details, links, videos and user guides will also be provided. You will need to authenticate on the new device and the Canon printer will be available for you to print. We have tested the registration process with colleagues in different departments, all the feedback was positive and registration was seamless. We have also put in place a Canon support process. Any questions please send to

Date Location
Monday 05 OctoberFlorfield Rd DepotHackney service Centre
Tuesday 06 October Annexe HLT
Wednesday 07 OctoberMillfields Depot
Thursday 08 OctoberCore campus Testing, Registrations
Friday 09 OctoberFloor walking, support for users

Satellite Site Visits & Fleet Design

We have been busy and very thorough and am pleased to say we are in the final stage of designing a fleet for our satellite sites that will reflect our new way of working. This design will look to reduce a number of printers with low volumes, The council will see massive cost savings in the near future due to this reduction also by centralising the print that usually goes through the current printers will now go to the print unit.

We are excited to engage with our colleagues outside the campus and strengthen our relationship going forward. This would also be a good opportunity to update our data and fill in the blanks. We have identified 39 sites that will require site visits. The map below provided by our Data & Insights team was really useful to identify sites close to each other that could potentially share a printer, it also helped measure distances from one site to another.

Removals of Xerox Devices 

We are arranging removals which will be the last removal phase on the core campus, all the devices we remove will have their hard drives removed and stored by the ICT team.

As you have heard us on numerous occasions talking about data or the lack of it, if we have missed or overlooked a piece of data and missed a device you might know about which is locked in a cupboard or under a desk in some remote office please let us know. There is some testing being done over the weekend regarding VDI if this is successful ALL xerox devices will be removed in the next few weeks.

Have you seen any disconnected Xerox printers anywhere? 

Apart from the HSC, as we know about them

Please contact