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UKGovCamp virtual event

Catch us at UKGovCamp

This Thursday 21st January marks the start of UKGovCamp, an unconference that takes place every year and brings together people from across the public sector to discuss how technology can, and does, improve civic services.

It’s an event that the mySociety team has really enjoyed being involved in previously, but we’re extra excited this year because our very own designer Martin will be running a session on consequence scanning. He’ll be taking attendees through a mock consequence scanning exercise, much like those we run while developing new SocietyWorks services for councils, and teaching them how the method can be used to predict, assess and mitigate any potential negative consequences.

Martin’s session will be familiar to anyone who came to the similarly-named LocalGovCamp conference towards the end of last year, where he first ran it. Based on its success there, as well as how helpful consequence scanning has been for us as an organisation, Martin’s keen to help as many people as possible discover this great method – so if you missed out last year, now’s your chance to get clued up.

The session will take place virtually at 1.45 PM on Thursday 21st January – we hope to see you there!

Find out more about the event and how to get involved here.

Image: Compare Fibre on Unsplash

User groups: how we’re involving clients in new feature planning

When it comes to drawing up plans for future features to add to the FixMyStreet Pro roadmap, it’s really important to us that we consult with the people who will actually be using them before we commit to anything.

That’s why we like to run user groups – events to which we invite clients to join us for a couple of hours to learn about what we’ve been working on and get involved in exploring any features which would be of benefit to them if we were to design them next.

 

Digital collaboration

Not wanting to let the pandemic get in our way of hosting these sessions in 2020, we moved them online, using Zoom to meet up and Miro to collaboratively share ideas.

Our most recent user group ran earlier this month as a perfect way to round off the year and influence our 2021 plans.

As part of the session, we broke off into small groups in order to answer this question: What’s the one thing you wished FixMyStreet Pro did that it doesn’t currently do?

Using Miro, each group was given 15 minutes to bounce ideas around for new features they would like to see on the FixMyStreet Pro service by pinning a digital post-it note to a board. Each idea was then discussed to determine what the feature is, what problem it solves and who would benefit from it. 

Before reconvening, the groups selected their favourite idea to be presented to everyone. The top ideas from each group were then voted upon to determine which was best, using a very snazzy feature of Miro’s platform.

 

Screenshot of the SocietyWorks user group Miro session
Our Designer Martin discusses the top ideas from the group sessions using Miro

 

Fast reactions

On this occasion, the winning new feature suggestion was to introduce the functionality to quickly create a report on a mobile device from a photo. Alex Brown from Island Roads, whose idea this was, explained more:

“If you’re familiar with iPhones and Android, you’ll know that there’s a share function which gives you a shortlist of things you can do with your photos.

“For example, you can open up a photo, press the share button, select your messages app and it takes you straight into the app where you can send the photo to one of your contacts.

“We’d like something similar to that [for FixMyStreetPro], where you can take a photo with your camera, open it, share it, hit FixMyStreet and it takes you straight into the app so you can log your report.”

As our Designer Martin said at the time: “Brilliant!”

A simple, yet smart idea that would make it even easier for citizens to act when they spot a problem within their local area. Plus, as we uncovered recently, reports with photos are around 15% more likely to be recorded as fixed than reports without a photo, so anything we can do to encourage the use of photos within reports can only be a good thing.

And here lies the beauty of running these user groups: not only is it the perfect opportunity for local authorities to discuss and share solutions to problems they’re facing, but it’s also the ideal environment to nurture brilliant ideas that we hadn’t thought of before. 

Going forward, we’re taking Alex’s idea, along with a few other suggestions from the day, into some discovery sessions in order to determine whether and when we can add them to our roadmap.

So, watch this space!

If you would like to come along to one of our future user groups, or you’d like to discuss any ideas of your own, do drop us a message.

Image: Dstudio Bcn on Unsplash

Image by Leo Sammarco. Trails of car lights on a motorway at dusk.

Sprint notes: 9 – 20 November

Here’s everything SocietyWorks is up to this sprint.

We prepared for the soft launch of the Bromley Waste service.

The new FixMyStreet Pro features we’ve been working on have taken a little longer than we anticipated, but we’re confident that they should be completed this sprint. We’ll be letting clients know all about them as soon as they’re live.

We’ve been prepping for our user groups and creating an agenda for the day. The challenge here is to make sure it’s not death by PowerPoint. We’re working with mySociety’s Events Manager Gemma to decide how best to shape it, and to explore the various online tools that make online events that bit more dynamic.

Since April 2020 Highways England have been trialing FixMyStreet in their East Midlands area to evaluate the response by users to a new digital channel for reporting highways issues. As of 9 November this trial has been expanded in size and scope to cover the whole of England, running until March 2021.

Image: Leo Sammarco

LocalGovCamp logo

Join us at LocalGovCamp

We’re longstanding supporters of LocalGovCamp, the conference where innovators in Local Government come together to share knowledge on how to improve services.

This year we’re both sponsoring it and running a couple of hands-on, interactive sessions. All online, of course, given the way things are these days.

On Tuesday 6 October, join a mySociety-led discussion with Mark and Zarino, on how consistent data standards across councils could open the doors to much better innovation.

We’ll be looking at our own Keep It In The Community project, nodding to our Council Climate Action Plans database, and inviting attendees to join a wider discussion on how we can encourage better joined-up data across councils.

And on Weds 7 October, our designer Martin will be running a mock ‘consequence scanning’ exercise. He’ll take participants through a new and useful way of assessing and mitigating risks in new government services, as conceived by Dot Everyone, recently taken up by Future Cities Catapult, and now used successfully in service design workshops by SocietyWorks.

We hope you’ll come along and enjoy some good discussion and deep dives into local government service improvement: find out more and book your place here.

 

FixMyStreet Pro at Highways UK

We’re back at the big highways maintenance expo of the year, Highways UK on 6-7 November, in Birmingham’s NEC.

If you’re attending and you’d like to know more about FixMyStreet Pro, come and seek us out at stand I23, where we’ll have brochures for you to take away.

Stay for a chat with David and the rest of the team, who will be delighted to discuss everything from CMS integration to the display of assets, to how we’ve made life easier for your staff behind the scenes. Best of all, ask them about the savings you can make when you install FixMyStreet Pro as your main reports interface.

But don’t just take it from us. Anna Fitzgerald from Oxfordshire County Council will be joining us all day on the 6th, while Rob Gillespie from Ringway, who are responsible for the Isle of Wight’s Island Roads and Hounslow’s highways, will be available for a chat from 2-3pm on the 7th.

Here’s where to find the FixMyStreet stand: we’re looking forward to seeing you there.

Click on the image below to see it at a larger size.

Highways Uk plan

Top image: Aleksejs Bergmanis

We’ll be at Highways UK

Highways UK is a massive annual expo for those working on the UK’s road infrastructure — from local authorities to contractors and regional transport bodies.

This year, for the first time, we’ll be heading to the NEC in Birmingham to demonstrate the benefits of our FixMyStreet Pro street fault reporting service for councils and other organisations.

If you’re one of the thousands of industry folk who’ll also be attending this two-day highways extravaganza on 7-8 November, do make sure you drop by our stand to meet us and learn more about how FixMyStreet Pro is saving councils money and transforming their services. We’ll be at stand D02, near the entrance.

Who’ll be there

Come and have a chat with one of these friendly mySociety team members:

Mark Cridge, Chief Exec Leading mySociety’s many activities, Mark is the one to ask about how FixMyStreet Pro sits within the current shift towards smart, digital solutions for councils. He’s also been instrumental in bringing councils in on the planning phase of our products — if you’re interested in contributing to that sort of input, do come and have a word.

 

Louise Howells of mySociety Louise Howells, Delivery Manager Louise handles much of the liaison between our client councils and FixMyStreet’s developers, making sure that everyone’s happy on both sides. She’s the best person to talk about the practicalities of implementation, ongoing support and the roadmap for future innovations on FixMyStreet.
 

David Eaton of mySociety David Eaton, Sales Director David can answer all your questions about integration, features and benefits — and because he’s talked to councils up and down the country, he’s very well-placed to discuss how other authorities are tackling their street reporting issues.
 
 

Events and presentations

We’ll be happy to show you a demo version of FixMyStreet — you can even have a play with it to see how all the different features work, both for the report-maker, and for various levels of admin staff. Just drop by the stand at any time during the two days. We’ve got plenty of reading material for you to take away, too.

But we’ll also have a couple of special presentations at our stand that you might want to put into your calendars:

Integrating FixMyStreet Pro with your asset management system

Wednesday 7th November 2.30pm Anna Fitzgerald (Principal Officer – Infrastructure Information Management Asset and Data Systems) from Oxfordshire County Council will be sharing the council’s experience of integrating FixMyStreet with their back end systems. Presentation followed by a Q&A session.

How FixMyStreet Pro transformed the customer service experience

Thursday 8th November 2.30pmTracy Eaton (Customer Experience Account Manager – Digital Team) from Buckinghamshire County Council will be exploring the impact adopting FixMyStreet has made to their highways related fault-handling. Presentation followed by a live Q&A.


Highways UK is a new venture for us, and we’re really looking forward to chatting face to face with people who share our interests. We’ll happily talk all day about effective digital solutions to the many challenges of roads maintenance! Hope to see you there.

Image: N-allen (CC BY-SA 4.0), from Wikimedia Commons

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