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FixMyStreet Pro in London

FixMyStreet Pro’s ability to handle the complex routing of inbound street and highways reports really comes into its own in London.

With thirty-two different boroughs and multiple public authorities taking responsibility for keeping the Capital’s cogs turning, the process of reporting problems in London can be somewhat of a tangled web for residents that aren’t sure who’s responsible for what, and for councils whose teams and internal systems are working in silo, leading to more phone calls, more emails, more duplication of effort and slower response times. 

FixMyStreet Pro has the intelligent functionality to connect everything together for councils using the service, and automatically reroute reports from one authority to another – and it works at its best when everyone is using it to its full potential. 

That’s why earlier this week we hosted a focused workshop for our growing contingent of London-based FixMyStreet Pro customers to share best practice ideas for how to get the most out of the service and maximise user uptake.

London talking

Transport for London (TfL)’s Customer Services Delivery Manager Fola Olafare kicked things off by talking through how FixMyStreet Pro (known by TfL as Street Care) has been working for them since its launch in 2019, and their ambitious aims for expanding the service’s reach and impact over the next eighteen months. 

Fola’s presentation ended with a lively group discussion in which attendees from Hounslow Highways and the London Boroughs of Bromley, Hackney, Merton and Westminster bounced their best ideas around for accelerating channel shift.

Next up we heard two case studies on successfully establishing FixMyStreet Pro as your channel of choice for taking reports from citizens. 

Tracy Eaton, newly-appointed Product Owner for FixMyStreet Pro at Buckinghamshire Council, where 61% of reports are now being made via FixMyStreet Pro, spoke about the importance of making use of the service’s ability to feed detailed and transparent information back to citizens, and how, by using FixMyStreet Pro’s map asset layers, duplicate reports for related categories have dropped down to just 0.05%.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Richards, Business Support & Market Manager at Bromley Council, shared some insight into Bromley’s channel shift journey with FixMyStreet Pro, which now accounts for a whopping 94% of all inbound reports.

Intelligent routing of reports

For our final session of the workshop, SocietyWorks’ Senior Developer Matthew Somerville gave a detailed demonstration of what is, arguably, the most intelligent and useful feature of FixMyStreet Pro for London boroughs: its ability to display assets and categories that are the responsibility of another authority on the map, and to reroute any reports pertaining to those categories.  

This particular feature of FixMyStreet Pro reflects the key functionality of the national FixMyStreet.com service, which allows citizens to make reports to councils and ensures those reports go to the correct place. After all, most citizens don’t care about whether an issue is the responsibility of one council or another, and nor should they have to; they just want to make a report and receive updates about its progress.

The difference with the Pro version is that everything is integrated with councils’ backend systems, so not only do reports go to the correct place, but they also require no manual intervention from staff, and facilitate a seamless two-way transfer of data.

Take the London Borough of Bexley’s version of FixMyStreet Pro as an example. As well as allowing residents to select from a list of categories that are the responsibility of the borough, Bexley also displays categories for reports that need to go to TfL (eg. Abandoned Santander Cycles), if and when a resident clicks on the ‘red route’ area of the map. 

Red routes on Bexley Council's FixMyStreet Pro showing red routes on the map

Any reports made on a ‘red route’ will automatically be sent to TfL, creating a really smooth experience for the report-maker and saving Bexley the trouble of having to deal with an irrelevant report.

In cases where a report could still be the responsibility of TfL, but it’s not on a ‘red route’, FixMyStreet Pro will work that out and send the report to TfL instead of to Bexley. Take the example below, which shows TfL’s traffic lights asset layer displayed on Bexley’s reporting service, ensuring that the report will not only go to the right place, but gives the most accurate information when it arrives.

TfL's asset layers displayed on Bexley Council's reporting service

Vice versa, on TfL’s version of FixMyStreet Pro, Street Care, should a citizen go to make a report about an issue on a ‘red route’, they will be able to choose from a variety of categories, most of which are the responsibility of TfL, some of which aren’t.

For example, if a citizen heads to Street Care and tries to report some litter on the road, they will be advised that this report needs to be dealt with by the borough, and will be able to click through to the national FixMyStreet.com site where the report information will be carried over, causing no interruption to the report-making process. 

TfL's Street Care is powered by FixMyStreet Pro

Equally, if a citizen tries to report a problem via Street Care and drops the map pin on a road that’s not maintained by TfL, this will be explained clearly and, again, the report-maker will be able to click through to a pre-filled report on FixMyStreet.com.

Reports can be rerouted from TfL to the correct borough

It’s not obligatory for our London borough councils to display ‘red routes’ and redirect reports to other authorities, but Matthew’s demonstration provided ample inspiration for how transformational doing so can be to the user experience.

For London boroughs, FixMyStreet Pro is a powerful tool for channel shift and presents a crucial opportunity to join a community of councils and other authorities delivering a truly efficient and joined-up service. 

Image: Ashleigh Joy Photography on Unsplash

We’re taking WasteWorks to RWM

RWM is the UK’s largest Recycling, Resource and Waste Management event, bringing together individuals, businesses, and local authorities dealing with recycling, resources, waste, and the circular economy.

We’ll be exhibiting at the event for the first time this year to introduce local authorities to WasteWorks, our new digital waste management service that integrates with in-cab systems to transform the user experience and drive incredible channel shift.

If you’re one of the many local authorities heading to the NEC on 22 – 23 September, come and see us in the Local Authority Lounge (we’ll be at stand LA1) to grab a brochure, or stop for a chat to learn more about how WasteWorks revolutionises digital access to domestic, bulky and green waste services for your residents, your staff and your contractors.

On day two of the event, we’ll be co-hosting a seminar with our partners Yotta to discuss how, together, we help councils to streamline waste services, realise significant cost savings and deliver a truly citizen-centric experience. Transforming waste services for true citizen satisfaction takes place on 23 September at 11am in the Local Authority Lounge.

Who’ll be there:

David Eaton, Sales Director – With over a decade of experience helping councils and other public sector organisations across the UK to achieve their digital transformation goals via robust and responsible technologies, David’s the one to speak to about all your digital waste service needs. He’ll be around on both days of the event, and is looking forward to finally being able to meet people in-person once again!

 

Sally Bracegirdle, Marketing & PR Manager – Accompanying David at the event, Sally joined us back in December 2020, so RWM will be the first in-person exhibition she’s been to with SocietyWorks! Sally’s passionate about helping councils to close the feedback loop and deliver a fulfilling citizen reporting experience. Ask her about how WasteWorks facilitates first-rate communication between citizen, council and other line of business system teams.

 

Martin Wright, Designer – Martin will be joining David and Sally on the second day of the event, when he’ll be delivering the seminar with Yotta. Martin plays a crucial role in ensuring that all of our digital services are designed with citizens at the front and centre. As well as being a designer, Martin also undertakes much of our user research, making him the perfect person to talk to about delivering citizen-centric public services.

We can’t wait to get back on the road to in-person events – see you there!

If you’d like to learn more about RWM, visit the event website.

Image: Claudio Schwarz

Join our session at SDinGov

Next month is SDinGov (Service Design in Government, if you were wondering), a two-day conference that brings together a community of professionals involved in designing and commissioning public services.

This year’s event will take place virtually, and we’re thrilled to announce that our submission to host a speaker session has been accepted.

SocietyWorks will be represented by our designer Martin Wright, who will be taking his popular consequence scanning workshop out for a spin once again. 

During the workshop you’ll take part in a consequence scanning exercise with Martin and the rest of the group, in which you’ll design a fictional new public service for a local authority and help to ensure that its launch doesn’t turn into a costly PR disaster. 

By the end of the session, you will know how to predict, assess and mitigate any potential negative consequences of your future public service design projects.

Martin has run variations of this workshop a couple of times now, so if you’ve missed out before, now’s your chance to see what it’s all about.

Consequence scanning – an exercise you can use when designing new services at SDinGov will take place on 16 September at 10.30am – 11.30am

See you there! 

Find out more about SDinGov here.

Webinar: Scoping out a successful citizen service: how to get started

Thank you to everyone who joined us on what was an extremely hot afternoon last Thursday for the first in our new series of webinars for local authorities. Scoping out a successful citizen service: how to get started was an exploration of the best way to get started when designing or redesigning an online service for citizens.

Leading the session, our designer and user researcher Martin Wright plotted the route from discovery to successful service uptake, highlighting the importance of carrying out consequence scanning and advising on how best to balance resident requirements with council capacity.

We were also joined by Bromley Council’s Technical Support Team Manager Jonathan Richards, who spoke about Bromley’s recent experience of designing and implementing a brand new online waste service for residents.

If you weren’t able to join us but you’re interested to know what was spoken about, you can watch a recording of the session below, and if you have any questions about anything that was discussed, let us know and we’ll get back to you with an answer!

Full video:

 

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Join us for a new series of webinars for local authorities

We’re thrilled to announce the launch of a brand new series of webinars for local authorities all about getting online citizen-facing services for the public realm right for you and for your residents.

After over a decade designing citizen-centric services with councils, this webinar series has been brewing for a while, and we’re pleased to have arrived at the right time to make it happen and more widely share the many lessons we’ve learned along the way, at every stage of process – from discovery to implementation and beyond. 

The series will take the form of regular, hour-long virtual events that will bring together experts from within SocietyWorks and the mySociety team, along with special guest speakers from across local government and the wider sector. Each webinar, we’ll hone in on a different aspect of public realm service design and delivery, discussing real-life experiences and sharing best practices.

And where better to start than at the beginning? 

For the first webinar, our Designer and User Researcher Martin Wright will be sharing his advice on where to start when it comes to building or redesigning a service for citizens. With help from some special guests, he’ll be discussing how to balance council and resident requirements, why consequence scanning is a must and ways you can encourage positive resident uptake.

Scoping out a successful citizen service: how to get started will take place in July. Find out more and register your free place

 

Get involved

Do you have a story to tell or some advice to share about how local authorities can perfect public realm online services? We’d love to have you as a guest speaker – tell us more here.

SocietyWorks is sponsoring LGA Conference 2021

Catch us at the LGA Virtual Annual Conference 2021

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 EatonDavid 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

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.

FixMyStreet Pro User Group

FixMyStreet Pro user group, May 2021: what happened on the day

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. 

Councils drive our development roadmap

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.

Designer Martin Wright moves the final post-it on the Miro board to crown ‘Scheduled emergency messages’ as the winning upcoming work idea

Bouncing ideas around

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

Sprint notes: 16 Mar – 1 Apr

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.

mySociety team meeting

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!

Bromley waste project

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.

Hackney noise case management

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.

FixMyStreet Pro

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

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

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