Latest news and innovations for councils and the public sector from the SocietyWorks team.
Brent Council is working with SocietyWorks to improve the online experience for residents when contacting the authority about two of its most in-demand services: residential waste and street and environment reporting.
Residents in Brent can now make use of two new digital portals, both powered by SocietyWorks’ citizen-centred technology: one for making waste-related requests, reports and payments online, using WasteWorks; the other for reporting street and environmental problems, using FixMyStreet Pro.
Branded to look exactly like the rest of Brent Council’s online environment and integrated directly with the Council’s existing asset, in-cab and payment systems, both WasteWorks and FixMyStreet Pro have enabled the council to facilitate a smooth transition for residents and staff, with no interruption to delivery. These integrations also permit information to be shared to and from residents, the Council and its contractors to help keep the feedback loop closed and improve resident satisfaction.
Brent Council’s dedicated instance of WasteWorks simplifies access to waste services online by providing one front door for all transactions, such as reporting a missed collection, ordering a new container or paying for a subscription to a green waste collection. Through integration, the portal can provide real-time updates about collections to residents to help Brent close the feedback loop, manage expectations and avoid unnecessary contact.
The portal was designed in collaboration with Bromley Council, and was shortlisted for the Public/Private Partnership award at the LGC Awards 2022. For Brent, we hope to replicate the success Bromley has seen with WasteWorks, with a 40% drop in unnecessary contact within the first few months of launching and a continual rise in subscriptions to waste services.
Meanwhile, through FixMyStreet Pro, residents can report local problems such as potholes, blocked drains and fly-tipping. The solution is designed as a progressive web app, giving residents the option to use it as an app or a website, with no obligation either way. It also has the unique ability to automatically triage reports on a nationwide scale, including to Transport for London, which reduces avoidable contact and eliminates manual intervention.
Angela Dixon, Managing Director at SocietyWorks said: “Consistency is key when it comes to improving the digital experience for residents, and with both WasteWorks and FixMyStreet Pro working in tandem for Brent, residents will benefit from using an efficient and intuitive interface across two different but equally in-demand service areas. It is a pleasure to collaborate with a council that takes such a forward-thinking and thorough approach to digital transformation.”
If you would like to know more about FixMyStreet Pro or WasteWorks, request a free, informal demo here.
FixMyStreet Pro has a very clever feature that suggests existing nearby reports to users if a pin is dropped on a map within a certain radius of another report of the same category.
If an issue has already been reported, FixMyStreet Pro encourages the user to subscribe to the existing report instead of re-reporting it – a time saver for both the would-be report-maker and the council responsible for responding to the problem at hand.
Previously, the radius for this feature was fixed at 250 metres. However, at the request of our clients, we have now implemented a new update to enable FixMyStreet Pro customers to customise the radius within which an existing report will be suggested to a user.
A larger radius can be useful for reports about issues that are likely to cover a large area, where users may drop a pin in a number of places to report the same issue. Meanwhile, a smaller radius can be more helpful in areas where there may be lots of reports of similar, but not identical problems.
By encouraging users to subscribe to existing reports wherever possible, the duplicate report suggestion feature helps to increase transparency and facilitates a one-report-per-issue approach to problem reporting without creating any extra work for council staff.
The duplicate report suggestion feature is available to all FixMyStreet Pro customers.
For more information about this feature, or any of FixMyStreet Pro’s other intuitive features, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Northumberland County Council is the latest local authority to have chosen SocietyWorks’ FixMyStreet Pro as its new reporting solution for street, highway and environmental issues.
Potholes, fly-tipping, broken street lights and other local place-based issues in Northumberland can now be reported to Northumberland County Council using a brand new installation of FixMyStreet Pro.
Provided by SocietyWorks, the wholly owned subsidiary of civic technology charity mySociety, FixMyStreet Pro is a long-running, map-based solution developed in collaboration with councils, which integrates with existing backend systems to create a seamless reporting experience and close the feedback loop between residents, the council and its contractors.
For Northumberland, the solution is integrated with the Causeway Alloy asset management system, ensuring reports go to the correct team and enabling updates to be sent back to report-makers. With all reports displayed on the map and the capability to automatically divert reports to other authorities, including to National Highways, FixMyStreet Pro will help Northumberland to increase transparency and reduce unnecessary contact.
Glen Sanderson, Leader of Northumberland County Council said: “We’re so pleased to be launching this system which should revolutionise the way we deal with issues on our roads and footpaths.
“This new online tool is the most direct way to report anything to us that needs fixing, cleaning or clearing across the county.
“In a short few clicks, people can easily alert the council to an issue and receive an update once it’s been resolved.”
Angela Dixon, Managing Director at SocietyWorks said: “Since launching in 2012, FixMyStreet Pro’s development has been guided by the councils using the solution and their residents’ needs.
“As a not-for-profit organisation passionate about helping local authorities to innovate using integrated, citizen-centred technology, it is great to see another council choose FixMyStreet Pro and join our collaborative network.
“We have really enjoyed working with Northumberland and we look forward to seeing the council use the solution and get involved in its future.”
Want to know more about FixMyStreet Pro? Request a demo to see how the solution could work for you.
We are delighted to announce that we are now an Associate Member of the Local Council Roads Innovation Group (LCRIG).
LCRIG brings together central and local government, supply chain and the wider highways community to ensure ongoing improvements in the highways sector.
Angela Dixon, Managing Director at SocietyWorks said: “Joining LCRIG is an exciting milestone for SocietyWorks, having been working in partnership with councils to support accessible and effective digital citizen engagement in maintaining the UK’s road and highway network since 2007, when our parent charity launched FixMyStreet, its national, map-based reporting service for local street-based issues.
“Fast-forward a few years to the launch of FixMyStreet Pro, a fully integrated version of the national service, designed in collaboration with a handful of forward-thinking councils who saw the vast potential in having a truly synchronised reporting service that is capable of integrating with numerous business systems, automatically triaging reports to the correct authority on behalf of citizens, and closing the feedback loop between report-makers, councils and their external contractors.
“Now, we are proud to be a well-established and trusted provider of several citizen-centred digital solutions to over 35 different councils, highways agencies and other public bodies. Our FixMyStreet Pro solution continues to build on 15 years of experience creating a reporting process for a broad range of localised road and highway issues that’s as smooth and satisfactory as possible for the report-maker, and for council staff.
“We take enormous pride in our collaborative approach to working with councils; it is your needs, along with those of your residents that sit at the heart of what we do. We see that approach mirrored in LCRIG, so it made perfect sense for us to align ourselves with the community and see how we can help each other to further innovate and facilitate effective, manageable and scalable digital transitions.”
For more information about LCRIG, please visit the website. Or if you would like to know more about how we help councils and highways agencies provide more citizen-friendly technology, please get in touch.
Originally launched in 2007 by our parent charity mySociety, FixMyStreet is a national reporting service for local street and environmental problems that sends reports to the correct authority even if the report-maker doesn’t know who that is.
Citizens can use the website, or they can download an app from the app store if they prefer. Until very recently, that app was a dedicated, ‘traditional’ app that ran on a different codebase to the website, and to each of the FixMyStreet Pro sites built for SocietyWorks’ client councils and other public sector bodies.
Not anymore though.
The FixMyStreet app has now been replaced with a brand new app store progressive web app.
This is very good news for app users, the councils who receive reports from FixMyStreet, and those who use FixMyStreet Pro as their own reporting solution – here’s why.
The new app store PWA enables assets like street lights and grit bins that were previously only available on FixMyStreet Pro sites to be displayed on the national site and app, meaning citizens are always able to make reports containing the most accurate information possible, no matter where they make the report.
Having a PWA instead of a website and separate dedicated app means that we don’t need to maintain two different codebases, helping us to keep costs down for our public sector clients without compromising on service delivery.
With everything running from the same codebase, this also means that everyone always enjoys the same user experience, with updates made to the website automatically reflected on app store PWAs. It also means accessibility is of the same high standard across the board.
Progressive web apps (PWAs) are websites that have been designed with ‘app like’ qualities. They look and act like an app and can be downloaded to a mobile’s home screen like an app – either from an app store or by simply saving the website directly to your device.
The main differences between PWAs and ‘normal’ dedicated apps is that they run from the same codebase and users are not obligated to download them in order to use them. Plus, they enable you to provide exactly the same experience to users across the website and “app”, with new features and functionality automatically available.
Yes, and that’s nothing new! FixMyStreet Pro was already a PWA, giving the councils and other public sector bodies that use the solution the ability to offer their users the choice to use a website, or download their PWA if they prefer.
Individually branded FixMyStreet Pro PWAs aren’t downloaded from an app store. Instead, users need to load the website from a browser on their chosen device and save it to their home screen – it will then work exactly the same as an app store PWA.
With all FixMyStreet Pro sites connected to the national service, the solution is capable of triaging reports on a nationwide scale, diverting reports meant for other authorities or agencies like National Highways.
Want to know more about FixMyStreet or FixMyStreet Pro? Get in touch with us.
Image: William Fortunato
SocietyWorks is working with Brent Council to transform the way residents report local street-based problems and access residential waste services online, starting with the installation of a dedicated version of FixMyStreet Pro.
Brent Council is the latest local authority to switch to FixMyStreet Pro for managing inbound street and environmental fault reports from residents. Like the twenty four other other local and public authorities across the UK using the software, Brent will benefit from FixMyStreet Pro’s unique ability to automatically triage reports on a nationwide scale, including to Transport for London, which reduces avoidable contact and eliminates manual intervention.
The map-based solution has a simple interface designed to make it easier for residents to report problems on any device, while also displaying all reports on the map to enable residents to subscribe to existing reports instead of creating duplicates.
Integrated directly with two of Brent’s backend management systems Symology and the Selected Interventions Echo system, which is used by the council’s waste contractor Veolia, FixMyStreet Pro will help to improve accuracy and close the feedback loop by facilitating a two-way exchange of data from council to report-maker.
The introduction of FixMyStreet Pro in Brent will be followed by the rollout of a dedicated version of SocietyWorks’ residential waste portal WasteWorks to also improve the user experience when accessing information and making requests about waste services.
Councillor Krupa Sheth, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Environment and Climate Action at Brent Council said: “We take serious pride in our streets and green spaces. In order to make sure our spaces are functioning – we need your help. I encourage all residents to let us know when they encounter fly-tipping, potholes, graffiti and other issues by using report.brent.gov.uk.”
“Thank you to all the residents who do keep us up to date with issues in the borough, it really does help us to keep Brent clean and green.”
Angela Dixon, Managing Director at SocietyWorks said: “It has been a delight to support Brent with this ambitious project to improve the digital experience for residents in two different service areas. At every stage it has been clear that resident needs are being prioritised, and we look forward to seeing our technology make a positive impact in the borough.”
FixMyStreet Pro for Brent Council is now live for residents to use: https://report.brent.gov.uk/
Mobile users of FixMyStreet and individual branded versions of FixMyStreet Pro can now make reports using a new crosshairs feature.
The crosshairs should make it even easier for report-makers to position the pin accurately on the map when using touchscreens, particularly those on smaller mobile devices.
Here’s an example of how the new crosshairs look within the FixMyStreet reporting workflow, starting with finding the location of the issue you want to report on the map (the crosshairs will automatically display in your location if you select “Use my current location”), placing the pin and then repositioning if needed. Report-makers can pan and zoom in/out of the map as required.
And here’s how the crosshairs look on one of our cobrand FixMyStreet Pro sites (we have used Oxfordshire County Council’s version of FixMyStreet Pro as an example).
The crosshairs have been automatically added to all FixMyStreet Pro sites.
If you are a FixMyStreet Pro client with a question about the crosshairs, please raise a ticket via the helpdesk.
If you are a council or other public body interested in learning more about FixMyStreet Pro, you can get in touch with us here.
Southwark Council is the latest in a fast-growing number of councils to adopt SocietyWorks’ map-based reporting solution FixMyStreet Pro for taking reports of street cleaning issues from residents.
Residents in the London borough of Southwark can now report street and environmental faults, such as fly-tipping, graffiti and overgrown grass, using a brand new installation of FixMyStreet Pro, built specifically for Southwark Council.
Provided by SocietyWorks, the wholly owned subsidiary of long-running civic technology charity mySociety, FixMyStreet Pro offers a simple, accessible and intuitive reporting experience and will feed reports directly into Southwark’s asset management system Confirm via integration.
Crucially, FixMyStreet Pro will help Southwark to close the feedback loop for residents without adding extra workload for staff by automatically pulling updates back out of Confirm for report-makers.
The new system displays all reports publicly on the map and is also capable of automatically diverting reports meant for other authorities, including for Transport for London, which will enable Southwark to increase transparency and improve the reporting user experience for both its residents and its staff.
Cllr Catherine Rose, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Parks, Streets & Clean Air, said: “Our new online tool is the most direct way to report anything to us that needs fixing, cleaning or clearing on Southwark’s estates and streets. In a short few clicks, you can easily alert the council to an issue and receive an update once it’s been resolved.
“We chose FixMyStreet Pro because it was the most user friendly street cleaning platform on the market. It takes away the stress of knowing who to contact at the council about issues we know our residents really care about, like fly tipping. We look forward to working with residents through FixMyStreet Pro to keep our streets cleaner, greener and healthier.”
Angela Dixon, Managing Director at SocietyWorks said: “We are delighted to have yet another London borough benefit from FixMyStreet Pro’s ability to simplify the reporting process and connect councils together for the satisfaction of citizens.
“It has been a genuine pleasure to work with the team at Southwark, who have kept their residents’ needs at the front and centre of their rollout of FixMyStreet Pro. We look forward to seeing residents and staff make use of the new system.”
FixMyStreet Pro for Southwark Council can be found here: https://report.southwark.gov.uk/
This week was Public Sector Insight Week 2023 – an annual event dedicated to bringing together government and businesses to help each other use digital more effectively.
As part of the event, our managing director Angela Dixon delivered a best practice session on closing the feedback loop between local authorities and residents.
Closed feedback loops are essential to building trust, managing expectations and increasing efficiency.
In our twenty years of experience working within the public sector, we have seen how difficult it can be for councils to keep feedback loops closed, with over-stretched budgets, the transient nature of local authority staffing and a multitude of different systems used for dealing with different issues.
Angela spoke about the common problems local authorities in particular face when feedback loops are broken, how to fix them effectively and shared some of our lessons learned from our experience of helping to bridge the gap between citizens and the public sector with innovative open-source digital solutions.
If you couldn’t make it to Angela’s talk, but you are interested to hear what she had to say, you can watch the full session on YouTube.
Camden Council joins over twenty other councils and public sector bodies in using FixMyStreet Pro as its citizen-facing online fault reporting tool for street and environmental issues.
A new, dedicated version of FixMyStreet Pro has launched for the London Borough of Camden, through which residents can report issues such as potholes, fly-tipping and broken street lights.
Developed by SocietyWorks, the wholly owned subsidiary of civic technology charity mySociety, FixMyStreet Pro is a user-friendly, map-based online reporting solution, designed to make it easy for residents to accurately report problems on any device.
FixMyStreet Pro will help to reduce report duplication by displaying all reports on the map and close the feedback loop by integrating with Camden’s backend system Symology to facilitate a two-way flow of data from council to report-maker.
Camden will also benefit from FixMyStreet Pro’s unique ability to automatically divert irrelevant reports to the correct council or authority, including to Transport for London, reducing unnecessary contact and improving processes.
Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet member for a sustainable Camden said: “Having the most up to date information about where there are any problems on roads and pavements across Camden can help us to respond to these quicker.
“Reports provided via the new FixMyStreet app and website are vital to this. Issues such as potholes, broken street lighting, damaged road signs, and blocked or flooded drains can now be reported quickly on the go and allow users to provide the exact location and upload a photo.
“This information is then sent directly to our engineers so they can investigate and seek to fix the problem in a more efficient and effective manner. The individual who reported the issue is then updated once the issue reported has been resolved.”
Angela Dixon, Managing Director at SocietyWorks said: “Camden is the tenth London borough council to have chosen FixMyStreet Pro as its fault reporting solution, along with Transport for London.
“This is a really significant step forward, not just for Camden, but for the capital as a whole, with FixMyStreet Pro creating a transparent and unified fault reporting process, capable of cross-borough report triaging, which makes it as easy as possible for London residents to report problems wherever they are.”
FixMyStreet Pro for Camden Council is now live for residents to use: https://fixmystreet.camden.gov.uk/