Finding support services near you (formerly Directory of services) weeknotes 17/01/20

This week, we’ve been busy trialling our chosen database, MiDoS, and analysing the results from our interviews and surveys with local organisations. 

Before departing for the slopes, Chris from Intuiti – the company that owns MiDoS – kindly sorted us out with a login to the admin interface. It is through this route that organisations can enter their details into the MiDoS database, ready to be pulled into any front-end website we choose. 

Meg and Winston tested the out-the-box interface and we are pleased to report that, with zero training, it’s very easy to use. We’ll verify this with volunteers from the organisations themselves but we couldn’t help having a poke about ourselves in the meantime. 

There are a few fields we want to tweak before we open it up to organisations and we’ll be working with MiDoS to configure those to suit our needs. And we also want to apply our own taxonomy to organisations, based on the services they provide, so that end users can find the services they need.

Our user research lead, Wing, has finished interviewing voluntary organisations large and small about their digital presence; and our survey on the same subject has closed. We’ve found that 90% of organisations (18/20) use their own website to market themselves and their activities, and many supplement this with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to promote individual events. One of the two organisations that doesn’t have a website expressed a desire to have one, which we hope to address through the ‘upskilling’ arm of this project.

Only 10% of organisations (2/20) have an up to date entry in the existing iCare directory. One of them, which did not have its own site, said they did get referrals from it. The rest cited “lack of time”, “it’s not used”, “I can’t remember the password” or “I don’t know how to do it” as reasons why it wasn’t updated. 35% (7/20) were not listed in iCare at all.

We can conclude that only one organisation saw the existing directory as a key part of its digital strategy. What does that mean for this project? Is the directory dead?

We don’t think so. With iCare, organisations are asked to update too many extraneous details that they’re already updating on their own websites (eg opening hours, minutiae of activities). Many don’t bother, and end users have stopped trusting the information. Equally, iCare doesn’t provide sufficient information on what the organisations actually do and consequently doesn’t encourage click-throughs to organisations’ own sites. Finally, its front-end design tucks the directory right at the bottom and also fails to encourage users to browse through to other organisations providing similar services.

We intend to address these issues with this project and, with the benefit of Agile and continual testing, we’ll be able to make sure we stay on track. It’s also worth highlighting that one interviewee wanted a user-friendly directory that not only signposts clients to them but that they can signpost clients to.

One clarification following our renaming exercise. Although we are now calling this project ‘Finding support services near you’, this isn’t reflective of any potential name for the directory. It’s simply the working title of the project so that those involved can understand readily what we are trying to achieve.

We rounded off the week with a planning session for our ‘How might we… verify an organisation’ workshop for next week. We’ll let you know the outcome of our collective creativity in next week’s update. If you can’t contain your excitement until then, you can always distract yourselves with Megxit. 

Getting Back In The Groove

Week notes Network Redesign 10/01/2020

Background & Recap

Let me start by welcoming everyone back after the Christmas break. I hope you were all able to get some rest and quality family time. It’s always a bit challenging getting back into the groove of things after some time off. However, there’s no time like the present so let’s get things underway.

For my new readers, the aim of the ‘Network Redesign’ is to enhance and future proof of the council network infrastructure. This will happen through the architectural redesign of the current council network and upgrading of associated hardware, (network switches & cables).

The new infrastructure design will have a ‘Web First’ strategy at its core and enable users (Council employees and members of the public to access council online services, from any of our offices without being bound to a local server but connecting directly to the cloud.

Last Sprint Goal

  • Complete cost estimates for potential firewall solution for the first quarter of 2020 (This has partially been achieved however due to sick leave elements of this task have rolled over into the upcoming Sprint)

Objectives for 2020 first quarter

Since the beginning of this project, I have had to up-skill my understanding of the different components which go into Wi-Fi installation and infrastructure redesign. From broadband cable installation, ‘Wayleave’ licensing to hardware purchasing of switches, to understanding the difference between these types of switches and their functions between a distribution and core levels. (See more on Core & Access Layer switches with this useful one-pager here)

The objective of our first quarter in 2020 will be to get the team and stakeholders for our project in a world where their understanding of our teams recommended solutions provide enough insight that they feel comfortable enough in their understanding to be able to order the relevant hardware solution fit for purpose and to meet a majority of our briefed requirements.

Sprint Goals

  • This current Sprint will see the team take a deeper dive into the requirements for purchasing a firewall for the data center and the distribution level.
  • Set up a Firewall test lab and review the results before submitting recommendations
  • Now that we have the ‘Wayleaves’ license approvals we are now doing the actual installation of the fiber optic cables for our identified sites.

Pipeline Project Week Notes

Background & Recap

‘Pipeline’ is a government platform, which can be used by anyone working in digital from central or local government. Created to encourage sharing of ideas and best ways to do all things digital from a public servant perspective.

This project main goal is to make Pipeline into a valuable portfolio-reporting tool, which will serve these dual aims. The main focus of this Sprint is to complete the re-skimming of the front-end interface with a goal to make it more users friendly.

Sprint Goal

Last year we had reached a stage in development where we now wanted to deploy the work carried out into a live environment following on from the testing and some bug fixes.

Challenges

Since the completion of the work, we have been experiencing some issues with deployment due to some internal bugs within Pipeline.

Next steps

  • Bug fixes to remedy the issues with deployment into a live environment
  • Further talks with the ‘L.D.C. Unit’ (Local Digital Collaboration Unit) to sync up and unpack future developments for the Pipeline platform

DXW Cyber Security By Design Week notes

The DXW Cybersecurity specialist team is currently working with the ICT team to help to tease out a bespoke approach for ensuring we have put security in the workflow of our DevOps team.

Last Sprint Goal

  • Facilitate and successfully complete the DXW workshop session with the Universal housing team

Sprint Goals

  • Capture the outcomes from the workshop and circulate the tasks amongst the Universal Housing team

Re-engineering Hackney content weeknotes 14/01/20

Site Improve screenshot
Site Improve screenshot

This project continues to throw up a multitude of potential avenues to explore. As part of the DevOps trio of projects at the end of last year (excellently DM-d by Felix), we cleared a load of outstanding bugs that had been, well, bugging us. Plus, the proto-support process that evolved out of the DevOps experiment has empowered our infrastructure and app support teams to respond with gusto if the site has a wobble. We’ll confirm it’s working if the ticket I just dropped in the support desk ends up in the right hands! 

We weren’t able to settle all of our irks in DevOps but, in the spirit of continuous improvement, we continue to push the bar where resources allow. The commercial properties service now has a more visual approach, akin to its real estate competitors. And the road safety pages have benefited from an audience-centric restructure. We’ve run a few workshops with services to promote the concept of user-centred design and, if your service would like help with this, give us a shout. We’ll also try and come up with workshop templates so you could run a session yourselves. 

Some services require more of a marketing focus than others. One example of this is Hackney Museum. We’re working with Niti and her team to create a museum website that holds its own against other museums’ and tourist attractions’ online offer. To achieve this – with minimal additional effort – our front-end developer Emma has created a Hackney WordPress theme using the WordPress CMS as the back-end and the HTML components built for the Intranet for the front-end. This equips us with a wider suite of components from which to devise a visual, enticing design that will appeal to visitors.

We can re-use the WordPress theme over and over again, where needs require. And, in the spirit of open source, we’re seeking to submit it to the WordPress theme repository so other organisations can repurpose it at no cost.

Some of the third party sites to which we link continue to use ancient templates, which disjoints the user experience. Working through a schedule of updating them is a project in itself, however, we now have the UI toolkit to aid suppliers. Museum Collections and News are up next for reskinning. New suppliers should be given the toolkit during onboarding (with requirements included in contracts) and the design team, led by Joanne, can assist with this. 

The Comms team continues to embed Site Improve into its business-as-usual routine to great effect. Thanks to Iain and Alan’s sterling efforts, we are pleased to report that all four metrics of quality assurance, accessibility, search engine optimisation and digital certainty have surpassed the government benchmark. 

We’ve put Hotjar back on the site and the DevOps blitz has increased from 55% to 65% the percentage of users scoring the site at least 4 out of 7 stars. The 35% less than happy with the current sitch are often complaining about embedded apps not working; and we’re looking at how we can feed this back to services to fix. On that note, Behrooz Mirmolavi will be flying in shortly from GLA to talk about his role as a website data analyst, especially around Google Analytics and Hotjar. All Hackney staff are invited so get your diaries prepped for 10am on 30th January. Save your spot or miss out!*

*(You don’t actually have to save your spot, just turn up)

Finding support services near you (formerly Directory of services) weeknotes 10/01/20

Happy New Year!

After a bit of a break, it’s useful to recap what’s happened before and why. So here’s a reminder of our problem statement.

In the last sprint of 2019 we:

  • Started to explore investment in digital upskilling across voluntary and care services in the borough.
  • Interviewed and surveyed organisations operating within the Well Street Common Neighbourhood to test the assumption that they will add to and update a single directory; and to get an idea of their digital confidence or any gaps in their skills.
  • Extended the minimum viable directory (currently a spreadsheet) to social prescribers, Hackney Adult Social Care 3 Conversations, Job Centre employment advisors, sexual health nurses and physiotherapists.
  • Ran a naming exercise, and we’re pleased to announce the new name of Finding support services near you that, in just a few words, encapsulates the point of the project rather than the underlying technology. This will replace the Directory of Services name in future weeknotes. If you want to learn more about the importance of naming projects, read here.

What’s next: 

  • Analysing the results of the survey and interviews with voluntary and care organisations, feeding back next time.
  • Transferring the data held within the minimum viable DoS spreadsheet into MiDoS and trialling with end-users within Well Street Common (including social prescribers, social workers, employment advisors, voluntary and care organisations and residents).
  • Continuing to gather feedback, adapt and test again.
  • Implementing the standardised voluntary and care services and local authority data structure led by Buckinghamshire County Council. Click here for an example of how this is being piloted by the Local Government Association (LGA).
  • Running a workshop to define the verification process and standard for organisations that want to be featured in the directory.

These weeknotes were originally written by team member Lucy Clifton.

Manage Arrears weeknotes: w.c. 6/1/2020

*Phase 3, Sprint 8*

Manage Arrears is an arrears case management system with the vision to create a simple service for residents and caseworkers that is easy to use and improves arrears management and collection.

The current phase will be ending soon. During this phase there has been a strong emphasis on our Rents caseworkers needs to encourage them to use the system. Our team has addressed these needs by: 

– Implementing patches

– Making the system more usable for caseworkers by adjusting the case prioritisation

– Separating Leasehold information from Rents

We have onboarded two teams from Rents and the findings to date have been that some of the cases are not falling into the correct classifications e.g. cases which do not need attention are being picked up for letter automation. As a result, we are focusing our resources on ensuring that the Letter 1, Letter 2 and NOSP classifications are correct so we can switch on automation by the end of the phase.  

This week’s highlights

  • Accessibility Testing

Many thanks to Gill for leading the Accessibility ‘hackathon’ on 7/1/2020 and providing us with a draft report in time for our Service Assessment. It was great to be a part of this session as it now means I can confidently repeat this and do more regular checks throughout future developments. The output of the report highlighted 14 issues, six of which were high, five were medium and three were low severities. I am due to review the report with the developers next week and put a plan in place to address it.  

  • Service Standard Assessment

Over the past few weeks, we have been preparing for our service assessment which took place on 9/10/2020. Many thanks to the great panel of assessors which objectively assessed Phase 3 against the 14 GDS service standards. The outcome was not as great as we would have liked, we fully ‘Met’ 7 standards, ‘Partially Met’ 5 standards and Failed 1 standard. We will be reviewing the recommendations and the output will be published shortly.  

  • Application Support

Meeting with our internal support team and putting a plan in place for handover at the end of the month.

  • Implementing a quick win

One of the rent’s team leaders asked if we could display Court and Eviction dates within the caseworker’s worktabs, to save officers from having to click into each case to find this. This feature was released on friday. This provides value to not only the onboarded caseworkers but also other officers.

Challenges

  • Limited resources within the service area to update missing UH data
  • Managing the cycle of timing fixing snags and providing users with enough time to check cases for each classification before the project comes to an end

Next week 

The plan for next week includes; 

  • Continuing to snag Letter 1 and 2 classifications so we can switch on automation
  • User Feedback session on Tuesday 14/01/2019
  • Show and Tell Wednesday 15/01/2019 @3pm 4th Floor HSC