Hackney Poverty Index Project: week commencing 20th January 2020

Sprint 6

The Hackney Poverty Index aims to build a shared understanding of poverty in Hackney by making the most of our local data.

The goal for sprint five was to produce an interim output for our project. +Tim Burke has been working really hard to develop our data model and prepare some initial outputs over the last two weeks.

We are still waiting for a lot of data in the education, health and housing themes, so for prototyping purposes, we have focussed on bringing together income data. Our draft ‘income’ index includes data on:

– Estimated household income

– Eligibility for means-tested benefits

– Impact of welfare form

– Pensioner poverty

We’re also still working on other income datasets (food bank usage, debt, child poverty), but this limited amount of data has still been enough to develop our model. The initial draft is looking good, however, we have realised that we need to make some decisions as a team about how best to: 

  • Normalise the data (getting indicators into a standard format so we’re not comparing apples and oranges)
  • Handle missing data e.g. where values are suppressed due to small numbers
  • And consider the best method for combining different scores (using either a geometric or arithmetic mean)

As a team, our next steps include workshopping the above in the next sprint and validating the proposed methodology with a challenge group, to help form the basis of the next iteration of the model and its outputs.

+Anna Gibson also obtained access to a cool tool called Hometrack (part of Zoopla) which will help us source data related to average rents and housing affordability.  


Gaining access to data is a challenge and we continue to work closely with various data experts/owners to obtain this.

Next sprint, our goals are to: 

1. Make important decisions about our methodology through team discussion and feedback from our challenge group

2. Follow up on outstanding data

3. Refine our model and its interim outputs

Report a Problem Weeknotes : week ending: 2020-01-24

A picture of the standard mySociety FixMyStreet service in Hackney Council branding.

A little late – the latest update in the implementation of FixMyStreet for Hackney Council.


Look and feel slotting into place. Things ended on a high last week with mySociety delivering HackIT first sight of what FixMyStreet will look like with Hackney branding. This was done very quickly using our web asset library – going to show again how we can accelerate projects by designing for future reuse.

First cut of reporting categories agreed. We’ll be able to iterate these when we do further user research.

Website service design discussion kicking off. All the relevant parties have been invited to attend a session this Friday.

Noise nuisance workshop being planned. Invitations have been sent out to potential attendees including staff from two other councils who have previous experience of this area.


Sometimes it’s just good to take the easy path. After a number of conversations we’ve decided to currently leave the name of the service as Report a Problem. We’ll ensure we test this with Hackney residents before the go-live but we feel we have more important things to do with our time at the moment.


We still haven’t delivered the FixMyStreet PO. I’m reliably informed this should land by the middle of next week. It’ll be great to get the contractuals under our belt and be able to focus on delivery.


Our widely distributed team continue to do great work on this. Thanks to Louise H., Louise W., David E., Martin, Matthew and Rasit.


In the next week we will do the following.

  • Land the PO
  • Confirm how we’ll approach the service design for how FixMyStreet will integrate with the Hackney Council website
  • Start discussions with our contact centre staff about how to train the right internal staff on how to use FixMyStreet to report issues citizens phone in with
  • Confirm the attendees for the noise nuisance workshop
  • Review an initial draft of the technical integration document for Alloy (for Highways)
  • Start thinking about our Privacy Impact Assessment
  • Start planning out first show and tell!

Manage Arrears weeknotes: w.c. 20/1/2020

*Phase 3, Sprint 9*  

The focus of this sprint has been about getting Rents Letters One and Two right, and user feedback has suggested that we have finally succeeded 🙂

Highlights of the week

  • The performance of our sync which runs overnight to update cases in arrears from UH into Manage Arrears has drastically improved. It used to take over 12 hours to run. It now takes only 15 minutes! Richard Race and Alex Demetriou worked on this on Thursday as we noticed a few cases in credit were appearing in the system. Nice Work! 
  • This week we adjusted some of the rules which classify Rents letters Ones and Twos. The changes were a good test demonstrating how well Manage Arrears has been designed to flexibly handle different service requirements for displaying cases. Caseworkers are working hard to cleanup the data ahead of the automation being switched on. We are currently awaiting confirmation from our Product Owner to let us know when the UH worktrays can be switched off, so we can carry out the above. 
  • This week, we also added pagination to the letters view page as it was loading every single letter ever sent from Manage Arrears causing the page to load extremely slowly. 
  • +Elaine Greeve ran an Agreements workshop to gain some insight into how these can be incorporated into the system in the next phase.

This week is our final week on the project and we will be:

1. Mapping the new service blueprint with the Rents team

2. Mapping the Leaseholds service blueprint with the new Leasehold Service Manager Chorwar Hussain in preparation for the next phase

3. Meeting with Housing Support team lead for a Technical Handover

4. Addressing the High Accessibility requirements from the assessment

5. Working with the Rents team to resolve showstopping bugs

MOKRs weeknote – 3

It felt like one of those weeks that weeknotes were designed for. At the end of the week I wasn’t sure that I had done anything very much. On reflection, though, there were a few things that I inched forward.  

I gave a bit of a steer to two team’s draft objectives. The initial draft objectives were slightly too high level, I thought, to be clear exactly what the team would do. I recognised this (and mentioned it) because it was the mistake I made when we first experimented with MOKRs in the digital and data team. The other team were clear about what they were going to do, but needed to spend a bit more time on capturing why we were doing it. 

I spent Friday with the extended housing service management team as they were developing service plans for 20/21. It was incredibly useful to hear their plans emerge. Whilst sometimes the language we use is a bit ‘the business and ICT’ actually, they didn’t need convincing that technology and data are central to their development plans. Most of the initiatives we knew about but there were a couple of new ideas, and some projects that we hadn’t focused enough on this year and need to get delivered in the next few months. 

I thought a lot about next week’s team workshop to share and refine our objectives. Frustratingly, I woke up in the middle of the night with a perfect exercise in my mind – which involved grouping the objectives by four categories. And then promptly forgot the categories by the next day. 

So there’s now a fair amount hanging on next week. Team managers will need to come to the workshop with a decent first draft of objectives, and work with each other to identify which teams need to be involved in delivery of each objective. And then the objectives need to be sufficiently tightly written that we understand the what and why. And then, ideally, I need to help relationship managers deliver a tool that’s going to enable us to get the input of colleagues in other services to ensure we’ve identified the right objectives. Best get going, then. 

Finding support services near you (formerly Directory of services) weeknotes 24/01/20

It’s official, we’re moving towards a single source of reliable data on services.

We’ve begun to reimagine how the City and Hackney directory could work, starting with a fresh database (MiDoS) where information is stored.

Applying this approach means the data is stored independently from the front-ends that use it – meaning that, in the future, we can drive other user experiences from the same data set, without needing to duplicate work.

Has anyone else done it?

Yes. This is similar to what Transport for London does with its data, which led to innovations like Citymapper. Buckinghamshire County Council has adopted this approach and other Local Authorities/ Integrated Care Systems are beginning to follow suit. It’s the same logic that underlies GOV.UK Registers: durable, maintained open datasets that can be repurposed to solve many user-facing problems.

Over the next few weeks we will be providing a select group of organisations that operate in Well Street with logins to the MiDoS database (so they can view/ amend/ add to their data) and gather feedback that will help inform our next steps.

Hackney residents are surrounded by community and voluntary organisations that are ready and willing to help, but it can be hard to find them.

In conjunction with the Well Street Common Partnership Programme being led by Hackney CVS, we’re developing a simple website that aims to simplify this search for services, pulling information from the directory.

But let’s not get too excited… We need to know that community and voluntary organisations will keep their information up to date and that those searching trust the information that is there.

Over the next few weeks we will have something visual to share with you (pending our proposal getting approved by the IT Enabler Board on Monday so we have some £ to do it).

How do we TRUST the organisations who are on there?

We held a verification workshop with a range of colleagues (from Employment Advisors to Nurses) to understand what lengths they go to to ensure an organisation they refer to are the ‘real deal’.

Turns out it’s quite a lot. And it varies.

To summarise, there are a range of approaches to validate legal angles (are they who are say they are) and quality (are they any good?).

Our next step is to propose a verification approach for organisations that are/ want to be listed on the directory. Watch this space.

These weeknotes were originally written by team member Meg Dibb-Fuller