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SocietyWorks is launching a new online applications and licensing portal for councils

We’re thrilled to be introducing a new product for councils into our suite of citizen-centred digital services: ApplyWorks will provide a user-friendly front-end workflow for taking online applications and payments for a variety of residential and business purposes.

From dropped kerbs and H-bar markings to trading licences, taxi licensing and skip hire ApplyWorks will adapt to whatever combination of service areas a council requires, while providing the same easy and intuitive user experience for applicants, and for customer services making applications on their behalf.

 

Sequence showing how ApplyWorks will work from a resident's perspective

Like all of SocietyWorks’ cloud-based products, ApplyWorks will enable integration with councils’ existing systems to streamline the application experience and close feedback loops. In this case, it will be payment providers and CRM systems, such as Confirm, Civica Pay and Worldpay. 

Using our smart geo-location technology and in-application prompts, ApplyWorks will help people to make more accurate and comprehensive applications. 

Specialised licensing features will be available for more complex service areas such as market trader pitches and taxi licensing. These features include asset layers, calendars and attendance registers.

ApplyWorks will be launching later on this year. If you would like more information or to get involved with the development process, please drop us a message.

SocietyWorks provides the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames with a new online waste portal

The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames has chosen SocietyWorks’ self-service waste portal WasteWorks, for managing resident access to waste online more efficiently and transparently, starting with garden waste and looking ahead to incorporate wider domestic waste services.

Residents of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames will now be able to access the council’s garden waste services via a dedicated version of SocietyWorks’ new online waste portal WasteWorks, which was launched in 2021 in collaboration with Bromley Council and Veolia. Using the portal, residents will be able to view their garden waste subscriptions, order new containers and use one-off card payments for non recurring subscriptions, all within the same workflow. There will soon be a Direct Debit function for residents to use for recurring subscriptions, too. While initially focused on improving the resident experience for garden waste, plans are in place to roll WasteWorks out to manage the council’s wider domestic waste service transactions. 

Optimised to work on whatever device residents want to use, WasteWorks will enable the Council to provide a more convenient and seamless online experience for residents thanks to integration with the council’s in-cab system provided by Veolia Echo and payment provider Capita. WasteWorks will also help to deliver a more transparent waste service by enabling a two-way flow of information to keep residents informed on the status of their waste subscriptions, payments, reports and requests. Customer services will be able to use the same user-centred workflow to manage waste subscriptions on behalf of residents over the phone.

The introduction of WasteWorks, which was recently shortlisted for a LGC Award 2022 in conjunction with Bromley Council, is a joint venture between the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and the London Borough of Sutton, whose own dedicated version of the portal is currently in development. This comes as part of the ongoing improvements being established by the South London Waste Partnership, of which both Kingston and Sutton are members. The two councils approached SocietyWorks to help further digitise their existing online domestic waste system and move towards a consistent approach to online waste services across the boroughs, which will also benefit their shared waste provider Veolia by improving communication between its in-cab system, the councils and residents.

Angela Dixon, Managing Director at SocietyWorks said: “We’re delighted to be helping the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames bring its online waste system in line with resident expectations. It’s always a pleasure to work with councils that not only put resident needs first, but also work very collaboratively with neighbouring councils and their other external partners to deliver more wide-reaching improvements. We look forward to helping more councils across the UK do the same.” 

Councillor John Sweeney, Portfolio Holder for Business, Recycling and Customer Contact added: “We are excited to be one of the first boroughs to use this innovative system. This new online portal will allow residents to more easily keep track of their subscription payments. It is great to know that this system has been developed with another London council and we look forward to rolling it out across the borough.”

Scott Edgell, General Manager, Veolia SLWP said: “Our teams work hard to serve over 70,000 Kingston households with recycling and waste collections, including 14,000 signed up to the garden waste collection service. We’re so pleased to be supporting Kingston Council with the implementation of their new waste portal with the help of SocietyWorks, so that the high quality service we strive to deliver to residents is reflected in a better experience online, and look forward to the platform’s development in Sutton.”

Take a look at The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames’ new green waste system or contact us to discuss how WasteWorks could work for your authority.

Peabody makes it easier for Thamesmead residents to report environmental issues with FixMyStreet Pro

Peabody Housing Association joins Transport for London and seven borough councils in using FixMyStreet Pro to provide an easy way for people to report local problems and improve satisfaction.

Residents living in Thamesmead, London will now be able to report local environmental issues such as fly-tipping, pest control, public lighting and problems in or around the canals and lakes to Peabody using a new dedicated online system powered by SocietyWorks’ FixMyStreet Pro. 

FixMyStreet Pro’s technology allows residents to pinpoint a problem’s location and report it within a matter of minutes via their mobile phones. The reports, which will be sent directly to Peabody’s dedicated environmental services team in Thamesmead, aim to enable the housing association to deliver a more efficient and effective service to local residents, working in tandem with the neighbouring boroughs of Bexley and Greenwich, both of which also use FixMyStreet Pro to manage reports from residents.

The homepage of Peabody's FixMyStreet Pro service for Thamesmead

Peabody, one of London’s largest and oldest housing associations, owns around 65% of the land in Thamesmead and is leading on the 30-year regeneration of the neighbourhood. This will create around 20,000 new homes; thousands of new jobs; a wealth of leisure, cultural and commercial facilities; improved green spaces and waterways; and better connections with London and the South East. Alongside its long-term plans for Thamesmead, Peabody is delivering ongoing improvements across the neighbourhood to enhance the day-to-day experiences of residents. FixMyStreet Pro is yet another step forward in achieving this. 

John Lewis, Executive Director of Peabody, said: “Getting the basics right for residents is a key priority for us all at Peabody. This means providing an effective repairs and maintenance service, investing more in our existing homes, and providing simple and easy access to our services through technology that’s quick and easy to use. It also means delivering services that best meet the needs of local communities.

“FixMyStreet Pro is an excellent example of how we can offer a modern and responsive environmental maintenance service to Thamesmead residents. It’s great to be launching it here, and I look forward to hearing resident feedback about it over the months ahead.”

Angela Dixon, Managing Director at SocietyWorks said: “This is a huge step forward for the residents of Thamesmead, who can now benefit from a truly joined-up reporting system for local problems. With Peabody and its two closest borough councils, Bexley and Greenwich, all using FixMyStreet Pro, the three bodies can work in synchronisation, making it easier than ever for residents to successfully report problems and care for their local community. We hope to help other areas of the UK achieve the same kind of progress.”

If you’d like to explore how FixMyStreet Pro could work for you, find out more here.

SocietyWorks has been shortlisted for a LGC Award

We are delighted to announce that we have been shortlisted for the Public/Private Partnership award at the LGC Awards 2022 for the work we completed with the London Borough of Bromley to develop a new, self-service digital domestic and green waste service.

The service, WasteWorks, is a secure, user-centred and fully integrated front-end system, designed to meet rising resident expectations for on-demand, self-service access to waste, while also helping councils to reduce costs and improve customer communications.

Within just a few months of launching WasteWorks, Bromley Council was seeing a 40% drop in avoidable customer contacts thanks to the system’s functionality to provide clear, citizen-friendly response templates that can be adjusted in real-time.

The council was also able to realise a long held ambition to provide an integrated Direct Debit option for payments for Green Waste services. Despite only being available for a short time, Direct Debits already account for a quarter of all transactions and are greatly reducing time and resources in issuing and processing renewal correspondence.

Angela Dixon, Managing Director at SocietyWorks, said: “We are incredibly proud of the partnership we have built with Bromley Council over the last ten years. Bromley’s dedicated team shares our desire to improve the accessibility and transparency of digital council services, and this is reflected in the scalable, user-centred solutions we produce together and their positive impact on residents and staff.

“We are thrilled to be shortlisted for this award and to celebrate the cohesion and trust between our teams, as well as the hard work that went into the creation of WasteWorks over the last twelve months, especially during a time when waste services have never been more important or under pressure.” 

Find out more about WasteWorks here.

New research: citizen expectations for local authority reporting services

Our new report Citizen reporting in the UK 2022, which explores whether and how citizens make reports about problems in their local area, has been published. 

Based on a nationwide YouGov survey commissioned by SocietyWorks, the report aims to help councils and other public sector organisations that need to take reports from citizens about a variety of issues to stay informed of ever-changing expectations. 

Among some of our key findings, we discovered that the majority of citizens surveyed said they haven’t reported a problem in the last few years due to experiencing previous disappointment caused by unresolved reports. 

We also learned that only 22% of respondents wanted a dedicated mobile app for making reports, while 43% would prefer a website that works well on mobile devices.

Alex Parsons, senior researcher at our parent charity mySociety, with whom we collaborated on this research, said: ‘Citizen reports of problems both help citizens feel guardianship over their area, and alert authorities to problems. Managing the feedback loop and the expectations of citizens is important because problems being reported and not fixed makes citizens less likely to report again. 

‘The philosophy of our services is that citizens should not need to understand how overlapping systems of government work to report problems, and this is validated by strong support for a tool that can route the request to the right place. 

‘Making it easy to report problems and keep citizens informed about progress improves the relationship between local councils and citizens and means citizens don’t need to follow-up through other methods.’ 

Councils that are keen to transform their service delivery for citizens can carry some key priorities forward from this research to help them harness the full potential of proactive citizen-made reports, without increasing the burden on customer services teams.

Read the full report, Citizen reporting in the UK 2022, here.

Merton Council switches to FixMyStreet Pro for managing environment reports

Merton Council has joined a growing number of London boroughs using SocietyWorks’ FixMyStreet Pro service to process reports from residents about local environment issues.

Londoners living in the borough of Merton can now make reports about environment issues such as fly-tipping and graffiti via the council’s newly launched FixMyStreet Pro service. Developed by SocietyWorks, the subsidiary of civic technology charity mySociety, FixMyStreet Pro is focused on helping citizens be active members of their community by making it easy to report problems and closing the feedback loop between council and resident.

FixMyStreet is an extremely user-friendly platform, and it will make it even easier for our residents to play their part.

Councillor Natasha Irons, Merton’s Cabinet Member for Local Environment and Green Spaces

Merton Council is one of several London authorities to use FixMyStreet Pro and benefit from its intelligent functionality to handle the complex routing of inbound street and environment reports, automatically ensuring everything goes to the correct place, including being able to divert reports to Transport for London where relevant. With integration into Merton’s Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM system, FixMyStreet Pro acts as the user-friendly front door to environment reports, with a simple, fully-optimised interface that works perfectly on any device and facilitates a two-way flow of data so that report-makers can stay up to date with the progress of their reports.

Councillor Natasha Irons, Merton’s Cabinet Member for Local Environment and Green Spaces: “Merton is a great place to live, work and visit but, like all London boroughs, we’re seeing too many people abusing our public spaces with environmental crimes like fly-tipping and littering. We want everyone to take care and pride in their neighbourhoods and behave considerately, so that everyone can enjoy our great borough. FixMyStreet is an extremely user-friendly platform, and it will make it even easier for our residents to play their part.”

Mark Cridge, Chief Executive at SocietyWorks said: “FixMyStreet Pro provides London councils with a key opportunity to join a community of authorities and other agencies delivering a truly efficient and joined-up service. We’re delighted to welcome Merton into the FixMyStreet family, and we’re excited to continue working together to build a stronger, more active community.”

FixMyStreet Pro is now up and running in Merton. Residents can use the service to report local environment issues

Want to explore how FixMyStreet Pro could work for you? Request a demo with the SocietyWorks team here.

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.

Full green garden waste bin awaiting collection

Sprint notes: 26 May – 7 June 2021

Here’s what the SocietyWorks team got up to during the latest sprint.

FixMyStreet Pro

This sprint the team hosted an informative Show & Tell session for Buckinghamshire Council, impressively titled ‘The Art of the Possible’. The aim of this session was to outline some of the new improvements available for FixMyStreet Pro, as well as to provide an overview of how WasteWorks, our waste management service, and ApplyForIt, our licensing application service, could bring further improvements for the Council. These improvements include: an enhanced customer journey; extra streamlined data flow from back office systems; adding additional service areas to reflect unitary status; additional asset layers; augmented mapping.

NoiseWorks

Not satisfied with just one Show & Tell session this sprint, we also met up with our friends at Hackney Council to show them the latest progress on our in-development noise case management service. The focus this sprint was on examining the mobile app experience for officers in the field. We gained valuable feedback and insights, with 100% of officers stating the NoiseWorks experience would save them time. Can’t get better than that!

WasteWorks

Also this sprint, we’ve been working hard with Bromley Council on their online green garden waste payments system – part of the WasteWorks service. This system will allow Bromley to generate income from new subscriptions, renewals and direct debits for their green garden waste collection service. This will be going live next sprint. 

Other projects

Another Bromley project, we’ve been doing some work on a CRM project for them, as well as integrating parks into their installation of FixMyStreet Pro, so that residents can now search by park names. Alongside this, we ticked several smaller Freshdesk enquiries from clients off the list, and added a new logo to Zurich’s version of FixMyStreet Pro.

SocietyWorks Team 

And finally, an exciting update on the SocietyWorks team: we are very happy to announce that we have recruited two new developers who will be joining the team very soon!

Got questions about anything we worked on this sprint? Get in touch.

Image: manfredrichter

Sprint notes: 11 – 26 May 2021

It’s been a cold and wet May, but we haven’t let that dampen our spirits here at SocietyWorks. Here are some of the highlights from the last sprint –  it was a busy one!

FixMyStreet Pro user group

This sprint we hosted another successful user group for our FixMyStreet Pro customers. These events give our council partners the chance to catch up on all of the new features we’ve been working on for the service, and also provide the opportunity to influence our development roadmap.

Thank you to everyone who made it on the day, and a special thank you to Jack Bowers from Central Bedfordshire Council and to Tom Scholes at Oxfordshire County Council who each presented a fantastic case study for us.

We also heard from Senior Developer Dave Arter who provided an expert demonstration of the recently added FixMyStreet Pro features, which now include OS Maps with MasterMap detail, mobile navigation improvements and image redaction.

You can find out more about the user group here.

WasteWorks

If you’re a keen follower of our sprint notes, you’ve probably noticed that we’re very excited to be co-designing with councils on the new WasteWorks product.

This is a citizen-centred system for councils to manage all elements of domestic, bulky and green waste online, integrated fully into any and all in-cab systems. We’ve moved into post-go live phase with Bromley Council after launching their phase 1 of work the other week.

NoiseWorks

Sshhh!  NoiseWorks is coming….

We have been partnering with Hackney Council to develop a nuisance noise reporting system for their local residents. We have completed phase 1 and are working towards completing phase 2 of the project. Please get in touch if you would like to know more. 

Smaller projects

We have also been working across a variety of smaller projects. This includes working on Red Claims for Buckinghamshire Council, bug fixing and supporting our clients via Freshdesk. 

Putting our heads together

This sprint we also had our SocietyWorks team meeting. This was a great opportunity for us all to get together to examine our internal processes, discuss the SocietyWorks suite of products and prioritise future projects. 

If that’s not enough we have also been looking to recruit new developers so we can continue innovating, collaborating and partnering on projects that will make a difference for citizens in our communities. 

Image: Gary Ellis

FOI Works integration with iCasework for Hackney Council

FOI Works can now integrate with iCasework

FOI Works, our citizen-friendly FOI service for public authorities, can now integrate with the iCasework FOI case management service.

Back in 2018, we started working with Hackney Council on a new Freedom of Information service that would improve citizen access to FOI and which could be integrated into their existing case management system via an API.

That service is FOI Works, and we’re very pleased to say that we have recently added a new standard integration for it: iCasework.

What is FOI Works?

FOI Works is an unobtrusive, open-source FOI service for public bodies that provides a user-centred FOI request process, while intelligently leveraging already published information to reduce request volume. 

Acting as the easy-to-navigate front door to FOI for citizens, FOI Works integrates seamlessly with case management systems to help divert citizens to potentially relevant responses already published within the case management system’s disclosure log.

Through this integration, FOI Works also removes the need for authorities to do any manual data entry; sending requests straight through to the case management system and immediately allocating a case number to the citizen.

Integration with iCasework

After initially using the Infreemation case management service to manage their FOI requests, Hackney Council recently told us they were switching to iCasework. So, sticking to our promise of connecting our services up to whichever systems our customers choose, we jumped straight into expanding FOI Works’ integration workflow, allowing for a new API connection with iCasework.

While we made some tweaks to the software behind the scenes, the in-built flexibility of FOI Works meant that there has been little to no change or disruption to how the service works for the Council and its residents. This is important because it allows our public authority partners to grow with the software, rather than needing to change everything whenever new or alternative systems are introduced.

The future for FOI Works

Our top priority when it comes to providing public authority services is the citizen, so we’re always thinking about how we can ensure that no matter what integration is required on the backend, the citizen gets the best possible experience on the frontend.

Looking ahead for FOI Works, we’d like to partner up with another public body to build a disclosure log into the service to further ensure that no matter what’s going on behind the scenes, FOI Works can provide citizens with easy access to all of the information they seek, while at the same time helping authorities to reduce the quantity of duplicate or unactionable FOI requests submitted.

FOI Works can be procured as a bolt-on to any case management system for public authorities – find FOI Works on G-Cloud.

Image: Samuel Regan-Asante

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