We’re very happy to be sponsoring this year’s virtual Local Government Association Annual Conference: three days of online talks from leading central and local government politicians as well as expert speakers from within and outside the sector.
Three lovely members of the SocietyWorks team will be there (virtually, of course) on 6 – 8 July, so do say hello whenever you see:
David Eaton, Sales Director – David has helped councils across the UK improve their customer experience, create incredible savings and drive channel shift via smart digital services for everything from highways and waste to FOI and noise. Ask him anything about setting up a new reporting service for your residents; he will have the answer.
Mark Cridge, Chief Executive – In addition to leading activities at our sister civic tech organisation mySociety, Mark has been instrumental in the launch of SocietyWorks and our suite of citizen services. Passionate about putting citizens at the heart of local authority services, Mark’s the one to talk to about all things digital transformation in local gov.
Sally Bracegirdle, Marketing & PR Manager – One of SocietyWorks’ newest team members, Sally joined in December 2020 and has spent her first few months on the job setting up lots of ways to share our expertise in the sector – one of those ways being attending this conference! Ask Sally about how to use internal and external communications to deliver a successful online service for citizens.
We’re looking forward to hearing from some fantastic speakers at the conference and chatting to people who share our interest in providing accessible, efficient and exceptional digital services for citizens. Hope to see you there!
In the meantime, ask us anything about citizen-friendly local authority services.
Last week we hosted another of our FixMyStreet Pro user groups. These events provide the perfect opportunity for us to get together with all of our council partners to show them what we’ve been working on and, importantly, give them the chance to influence what’s next for FixMyStreet Pro.
Senior Developer Dave Arter gave everyone a tour of all of the recently added features for FixMyStreet Pro, from a new OS Maps API and some fantastic mobile navigation improvements to extra detailed asset information and intelligent image redaction.
We also heard from Sam Pearson, mySociety’s Site Reliability Engineer who took us behind the scenes of FixMyStreet Pro. Sam gave us a fascinating glimpse into the architecture of the service, how it’s maintained and how we keep it secure for our customers.
A highlight of our user groups is always the interactive roadmap session – this is the part where we involve councils in helping to decide what new features we should be working on next for FixMyStreet Pro.
Starting with a runthrough of some of the new feature suggestions we’ve been receiving from our council partners recently by Operations Director Louise Howells, we then broke out into five groups to discuss each suggestion and prioritise them from most to least pressing. Under the guidance of our Designer Martin Wright, each group used Miro boards to select the one project they most wanted to see worked on, before regrouping to compare selections and choose an overall winner.
So what did our council partners choose to be worked on next for FixMyStreet Pro? Scheduled emergency messages that only appear at the correctly calculated time. This is something several councils have asked for, so we’re very happy to be getting the ball rolling.
As well as having a say on our development roadmap, the user groups are also a great opportunity for councils to share best practices with each other, present case studies on how FixMyStreet Pro is working for them and discuss topics of interest.
Jack Bowers, Principal Highways Liaison Officer at Central Bedfordshire, presented a brilliant case study all about how FixMyStreet Pro has, within just a few months of launching, helped the council to create fast channel shift, improve the citizen user experience and reduce reporting costs by 24%. Just what we like to hear!
We also heard from Tom Scholes, Group Manager – Asset Data & Systems at Oxfordshire County Council, who led a very engaging discussion on demand management and intervention criteria. Tom spoke about how the council often receives reports about potholes that fall below their threshold for repair. He then sought advice from other councils on how best to utilise FixMyStreet Pro to handle this without compromising the citizen experience. Some fantastic ideas were thrown around, and we’ll be on hand to support Oxfordshire to better help citizens understand what counts as an actionable report.
And that’s it! It was a very enjoyable user group, and we’re already looking forward to the next one in November, which with any luck will be an in-person event!
If you have any questions about anything mentioned above, or you’d like to be invited to the next user group, do let us know.
Image: S O C I A L . C U T
Spring is in the air, the clocks have gone forward and it’s been another busy sprint for the SocietyWorks team – here’s what we got up to.
We attended the first mySociety team meeting of the year (online, of course), where we took a look at what we’d achieved over the past 12 months, and what we need to achieve in the next 12. It was a great opportunity to speak to colleagues and share the SocietyWorks strategy and vision with the rest of the team.
During the meeting, we hosted various breakout sessions, including a marketing catch-up to see all the new things our Marketing & PR Manager Sally has been working on. We also reviewed our internal coding practises with Senior Developer Chris. We’ve got our fingers crossed for an in-person meeting soon, as much as we did all enjoy receiving cookies in the post to nibble on throughout the meeting!
As well as the team meeting, we’ve been continuing work on Bromley Council’s new waste project and have started our internal review process, in preparation for handover to the client in a few weeks’ time.
We also made progress on our new product NoiseWorks with Hackney Council (read more about it here). We’ve been getting up to speed on the discovery interviews Zarino, one of our wonderful designers, has been holding and working out what our next set of priorities will be.
We’ve also been meeting with lots of our FixMyStreet Pro customers, with Account Manager Clare holding her quarterly account management meetings. These meetings give us the chance to regularly check in and catch up with our clients to discuss feedback, issues and any concerns they may have. We also talk about the latest feature developments to FixMyStreet Pro, as well as providing a SocietyWorks product update, which currently includes our new WasteWorks product. Here again, we are very much looking forward to being able to see our clients face-to-face once more in the near future!
Image: Tatiana Rodriguez on Unsplash
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!
Image: Compare Fibre on Unsplash
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Top image: Aleksejs Bergmanis
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.
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, 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, 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.
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:
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.
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.