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SocietyWorks is now on CCS’ Low Value Purchase System

We are pleased to announce that SocietyWorks has been accepted onto the Crown Commercial Service’s (CSS) Low Value Purchase System (LVPS).

The LVPS is specifically for low cost and uncomplicated goods and services. Our SaaS products can be purchased through the LVPS either through direct award or via what’s known as a mini competition. 

As a not-for-profit SME, being accepted onto the LVPS opens up a vital new route to market, while giving our customers another Public Contracts Regulations 2015 compliant and pre-approved way to procure our solutions.

Our acceptance onto the framework is also testament to our belief that pricing should always be transparent and costs should always be kept to a minimum, even when the impact is high. Visit the CCS website for more information on how the LVPS works.

Our products and services are also available on G-Cloud and Digital Outcomes.

If you have any questions about procuring SocietyWorks’ solutions, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help. 


SocietyWorks is now Cyber Essentials Plus certified

We are delighted to share that SocietyWorks has been awarded a Cyber Essentials Plus certification, along with our parent charity mySociety.

 

 

The Cyber Essentials Plus audited certification follows our existing Cyber Essentials certification, which we have been awarded yearly since 2019.

As a supplier of digital products and services to local authorities and the public sector, we know that cyber security is of the utmost importance to our customers.

Achieving the Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation reflects our continued commitment to cyber security, with robust policies and technical controls in place to defend against the most common cyber threats. 

You can find more information about Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus on the National Cyber Security Centre website.

Or you might like to read more about our approach to security and secure hosting for our digital solutions.

Image: Image by Freepik


New FixMyStreet Pro services for North Northamptonshire Council and West Northamptonshire Council

Two new installations of FixMyStreet Pro have been launched for North Northamptonshire Council and West Northamptonshire Council, respectively. 

Residents can use both services to report local street, highway and environment problems, such as potholes, fly-tipping and blocked drains, to the two councils. 

Report-makers are kept informed on the status of their reports thanks to an Open311 API integration with the councils’ backend systems, which are managed by their highways contractor Kier.

Existing reports are shown on the map, and potential duplicates are suggested to users within the reporting workflow. If the problem is the same, they can subscribe to the existing report instead of re-reporting. 

Getting reports to the right place

FixMyStreet Pro is a map-based system, which triages reports based on the location data and category selected within a report. 

Helpfully, because FixMyStreet Pro is built upon the national FixMyStreet platform, the two versions of the service are able to triage reports between North and West Northamptonshire automatically, as well as nationally to other councils and to National Highways. 

[FixMyStreet Pro] will allow us to manage our customer expectations in a much more streamlined approach and enables us to move into a new way of working.  We would like to thank SocietyWorks for their help and support in achieving this.

Michelle Johnson, Senior Business Improvement Officer at West Northamptonshire Council

For reports of issues not handled by Kier, FixMyStreet Pro will direct these to internal teams within each council, who can manage responses and updates from the FixMyStreet Pro administration dashboard. 

Meanwhile, reports of abandoned vehicles will be sent to Northamptonshire Police.

This functionality helps to prevent unnecessary contact and failure demand, while improving the reporting experience for members of the public.

Easy to use for everyone

FixMyStreet Pro is designed as a Progressive Web App (PWA), which means each council benefits from a web service that functions beautifully on any device, and can be downloaded to mobile devices to be used as an app without needing to maintain two codebases.

Being a PWA also means the service provides offline functionality, enabling people to start reports while offline, save them as drafts and complete them when connected to the internet again. 

This is ideal for North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire, where a large proportion of the areas covered by the councils are very rural. 

This will also benefit on-the-ground inspector staff, who will be able to use FixMyStreet Pro’s administration features while out and about, such as viewing a shortlist of reports, inspecting problems and updating reports.

Mobile and desktop versions of North and West Northamptonshire Councils' FixMyStreet Pro service

Supporting Northamptonshire’s unitary transition

FixMyStreet Pro was first introduced in the county of Northamptonshire by the former Northamptonshire County Council and Kier in 2019.

In 2021, a unitary split turned Northamptonshire County Council into North Northamptonshire Council and West Northamptonshire Council. 

The new councils each absorbed responsibility for Northamptonshire’s district councils, with different issues now going to a different council based on location and category. 

Working with NNC and WNC and SocietyWorks has been a pleasure throughout, and we hope to continue to expand upon the functionality provided.

Dhugal Leverett, Senior Software Developer at Kier Transportation

FixMyStreet Pro continued to provide a combined reporting service for the two new councils to ensure there was no interruption for residents wanting to report a problem and minimise confusion around which council was now responsible for what.

That was a great interim solution to help each council navigate their internal changes while keeping things simple for residents on the front end until each was in a position to be able to roll out their own branded service.

Fixing streets in Northamptonshire

The launch of FixMyStreet Pro for North Northamptonshire Council and West Northamptonshire Council has been a collaborative effort between SocietyWorks, the two councils and Kier.

Philip Beecroft, Head of Highways at North Northamptonshire Council, said: “We are delighted to have secured our own independent FixMyStreet system by working with SocietyWorks. 

“The separation of the former County-wide system to provide North and West Northamptonshire each with a standalone service allows us to move forward with our customer journey in a much more efficient way and will allow our Highways Service Provider, Kier, to expand on the existing integration between their Works Management system and FixMyStreet. This will allow us to make any necessary changes to ensure that our customers receive the best service.”

Speaking on behalf of West Northamptonshire Council, Michelle Johnson, Senior Business Improvement Officer, said: “We are delighted to have split the system between us and North Northamptonshire Council. 

“The split will allow us to manage our customer expectations in a much more streamlined approach and enables us to move into a new way of working.  We would like to thank SocietyWorks for their help and support in achieving this.”

Dhugal Leverett, Senior Software Developer at Kier Transportation, added: “Kier are pleased to be able to expand on the existing integration between our Works Management system and FixMyStreet.

“Working with NNC and WNC and SocietyWorks has been a pleasure throughout, and we hope to continue to expand upon the functionality provided.”

Angela Dixon, Managing Director at SocietyWorks, said: “I’m really proud of how we’ve been able to support North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire throughout this project.

“It’s wonderful to see our technology being used to its full potential by local authorities, to see how it supports authorities through times of change and uncertainty while transitioning to unitary, and always while keeping residents at the front and centre.”

Want to learn more about FixMyStreet Pro? Get in touch and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.


Integrating FixMyStreet Pro with Microsoft Entra ID for Transport for London

A new integration has been completed between FixMyStreet Pro and Microsoft Entra ID (formerly known as Azure Active Directory) for Transport for London (TfL).

Using an OpenID Connect-compliant endpoint, the integration enables TfL staff user accounts on FixMyStreet Pro to be securely linked to TfL’s Entra ID. 

Screenshot of TfL's Single Sign On gateway on their FixMyStreet Pro service

This makes it easier and faster for authorised staff to log in to the FixMyStreet Pro administration dashboard, from which they can access different features depending on their account type permissions. 

It also means that roles are automatically synced between the two systems, with a user’s assigned role and account access on Entra ID automatically reflected in FixMyStreet Pro. This increases security and decreases the administrative burden for authorities who provide access to large teams. 

FixMyStreet Pro’s administration features include:

  1. Viewing all reports
  2. Editing or updating reports
  3. Making reports on behalf of members of the public who call or email the contact centre
  4. Assigning reports to inspectors
  5. Creating and editing response templates
  6. Viewing and exporting report data for analysis

Helping care for London’s streets

TfL’s FixMyStreet Pro service, known as Streetcare, allows members of the public to report problems such as potholes, faulty street lights and damaged bus shelters on London’s roads straight to the highway authority. 

Through FixMyStreet Pro’s connection to the national FixMyStreet service, it is capable of triaging reports of problems that are not the responsibility of TfL to the correct borough council or, in some areas, the responsible housing association. 

Screenshot of TfL's Streetcare service, which is powered by FixMyStreet Pro

Users who don’t realise the problem they want to report via Streetcare cannot be addressed by TfL will be diverted to the national FixMyStreet site. Meanwhile, reports of abandoned hire bikes and scooters are sent directly to the correct operator

FixMyStreet Pro works this out on behalf of report-makers according to the location and category of the problem, mitigating against the creation of failure demand. This is particularly helpful in places like London where a vast number of authorities are responsible for overlapping issues. 

Vice versa, it is possible for reports of problems that are the responsibility of TfL made via a council or other authority’s own instance of FixMyStreet Pro to be automatically diverted. See below an example of how this works on the London Borough of Bexley’s FixMyStreet Pro service, which allows users to make reports using Bexley’s site, but sends them to TfL:

Image shows a desktop and mobile example of Bexley Council's FixMyStreet Pro, with 'red routes' highlighted, which send reports to TfL

Wherever you are in the UK, FixMyStreet Pro can help you to provide a more efficient, intuitive and streamlined reporting service. Find out more


London boroughs of Kingston and Sutton take requests for bulky waste collections with WasteWorks

Following the recent implementation of WasteWorks in the London boroughs of Kingston and Sutton, both councils’ versions of the service can now be used by residents to book bulky waste collections online.

WasteWorks was chosen by Kingston and Sutton in 2022 as part of a programme of ongoing improvements to residential waste services for both boroughs. The service is already used by residents to easily and conveniently access information about their bin days, report problems with collections, request new containers and subscribe to green waste collections.

The addition of the bulky waste collection functionality incorporates another aspect of the councils’ waste service into WasteWorks’ user-friendly interface, which was designed in collaboration with Bromley Council to simplify access to residential waste online and reduce avoidable customer contact.

Image shows a desktop and mobile version of the bulky waste collection service of WasteWorks for Kingston and Sutton

For Kingston and Sutton, WasteWorks is integrated with the Selected Interventions Echo in-cab system, which is used by Veolia, the waste contractor for both councils. This integration enables a seamless two-way flow of data between residents and Veolia, sharing up-to-date information about waste collections, such as when a bin will next be collected, or why a collection was missed, and enabling residents to reserve available collection slots for bulky waste.

To allow residents to pay for their collections within the same workflow, WasteWorks is also integrated with the Capita Pay 360 payment system for Kingston, and the Barclaycard system for Sutton. 

Residents can also use WasteWorks to report a missed bulky collection and submit cancellation requests.

Angela Dixon, Managing Director at SocietyWorks, said: “The delivery of WasteWorks for Kingston and Sutton has been a significant collaborative effort between SocietyWorks, Kingston and Sutton, Selected Interventions and Veolia. All parties share a dedication to improving waste services for residents, and we are thrilled to be able to support them with this with scalable, citizen-centred technology.” 

Find out more about WasteWorks here


New category search functionality added to FixMyStreet

Users of FixMyStreet can now select an appropriate category for their report using a newly added search bar.

After locating the problem they want to report, either by typing in a location or locating themselves automatically using GPS and dropping a pin on the map, users can type in the search bar to find an available category.

The search functionality will begin to suggest available categories to the user, who can either select one, continue searching or choose from a list of all available categories, the latter of which was previously the only option.

It’s important to note that categories are set by each individual council or authority to reflect the issues they can deal with. 

Improving accuracy and user experience

The category selected by a report-maker is responsible for the routing of the report and dictates any automated messaging sent to them, making it a very important thing to get right.

We carried out some independent user testing with members of the public to see if using a search bar to find a category made things easier and more accurate. 

Image shows how the FixMyStreet search function works on both desktop and mobile devices

 

We found that searching for a category on FixMyStreet does in fact make it not only faster for users to find the category they’re looking for by narrowing down their options, but also assists them in finding the best one to help the responsible authority respond appropriately.

For example, should a member of the public type in the word ‘sign’, FixMyStreet will display a list of available subcategories relating to problems with and adjacent to signs, helping them choose the exact problem they have found.

Next steps: local language and controlled vocabularies

A challenge we’re currently exploring solutions to is how we teach the search functionality to accommodate the fact that there can be multiple words for the same thing. For example, what the council calls a drain, might not be the same as what a member of the public calls it. 

There are also linguistic differences in terms of what something is called in one area of the UK versus another. 

To mitigate the risk of confusion and improve accessibility we are prototyping the use of controlled vocabularies to organise search terms, including attaching variants and related terms to so-called  ‘preferred’ or ‘standard’ terms. 

Whatever we do, we need to make sure the search functionality doesn’t produce an unwieldy list of potential matches. 

It’s a work in progress, and we’ll hopefully have more to share soon!

For councils or other authorities using FixMyStreet Pro, the search functionality will be rolled out to your individual instance of the service soon. Please speak to your account manager if you have any questions.

For everyone else, here’s where you can find more information about:

  • FixMyStreet – the national reporting service for local problems run by civic technology charity mySociety since 2007;
  • FixMyStreet Pro – the fully integrated version of FixMyStreet, run by SocietyWorks (the wholly owned subsidiary of mySociety) and developed in collaboration with councils.

Small items collection functionality added to WasteWorks

In collaboration with Brent Council we have added some new functionality to WasteWorks which enables residents to book a waste collection for small items including batteries and textiles.

WasteWorks is our front end residential waste platform designed with and for councils to provide simple online access for residents to information about their waste collections. It has the flexibility not just to integrate with any in-cab system or payment provider, but to also easily incorporate extra elements of a waste service as required by councils, including bulky waste, green garden waste, assisted collections, and now small items collections.

The new small items collection functionality was built for Brent Council’s installation of WasteWorks. Now, along with being able to view and download their waste collection schedules, report problems, request new containers and pay for garden waste subscriptions, residents in Brent can also use WasteWorks to access the council’s free bookable small items collection service. 

Examples of how Brent's small item collection booking service looks on desktop on mobile

Integrated with the Selected Interventions Echo in-cab system used by Brent Council’s waste contractor Veolia, WasteWorks takes residents through an intuitive request workflow within which they can select from a list of items included in the small items collection service and book a time slot according to availability. Each request created via WasteWorks is automatically sent into Echo for staff and contractors to manage directly.

Using this feature, residents can also cancel a booking for a small item collection, or report that a collection has been missed. The integration between WasteWorks and Echo will allow the council to keep residents informed on the progress of their requests and reports.

Councillor Krupa Sheth, Cabinet Member for Environment, Infrastructure, and Climate Action, said: “We want to make it as easy as possible for residents to get rid of your items in the most environmentally friendly way possible, as well as making it easy as possible. I welcome this partnership and look forward to working with SocietyWorks on this service.”

Angela Dixon, Managing Director at SocietyWorks said: “We take pride in the fact that each of our digital solutions is developed in collaboration with councils. This new feature of WasteWorks built in partnership with Brent Council is another great example of how the product continues to grow in line with the needs of councils and their residents.”

Find out more about WasteWorks or if you’re an existing WasteWorks client and you’d like to use this new feature please speak to your account manager.


Bulky waste added to Bromley Council’s WasteWorks service

Working in partnership with Bromley Council, we have added some new functionality to the Council’s installation of our WasteWorks solution to enable residents to book bulky waste collections online.

WasteWorks was co-designed with Bromley and introduced in the Borough in 2021 as a smart and user-friendly way for residents to access residential waste services online. Residents already use the service to check their bin days, report a problem with a collection, request a new or extra container and subscribe to green waste collections. 

WasteWorks is a progressive web app, optimised to work perfectly on all devices

By integrating with existing systems, WasteWorks creates a consistent front door to all aspects of a council’s waste service, sharing information between residents, contractors and back again, which has already achieved a 40% drop in avoidable customer contact for Bromley.

Integrated with the Selected Interventions Echo in-cab system, which is used by Bromley’s waste contractor Veolia, as well as with the Capita Pay 360 payment system, residents can now also use WasteWorks to book and pay for collections for residential bulky waste items, such as carpets, furniture and white goods.

Screenshot of Bromley's bulky waste booking service on WasteWorks
Residents can book bulky waste collections through WasteWorks, as well as view existing bookings

Residents wanting to use the service will be guided through a simple and intuitive workflow which enables them to select the type of item to be collected, reserve an available time slot and pay for the collection. WasteWorks can also handle cancellation and refund requests, as well as missed collection reports.

Jim Cowan, Head of Neighbourhood Management at the London Borough of Bromley said: “Placing the bulky waste collection service onto the WasteWorks platform is another step in making access to our services even better for our residents. Access to waste collection information, recycling container orders, enquiries and bulky waste bookings is now a one stop shop. 

“Moving from the existing server platform for bulky waste to cloud through WasteWorks is a key element of Bromley’s digital transformation plan, and the integration into Veolia’s Echo logistic system improves administration and fleet efficiency – just two of the many reasons why working with our partner SocietyWorks has yet again given us the outcome we desired”.  

Angela Dixon, Managing Director at SocietyWorks, said: “The addition of the bulky waste functionality marks another milestone in our partnership with Bromley Council. 

“The team at Bromley have been involved in the development of WasteWorks from day one, and we’re proud to support them with another innovative service transition that meets the needs of residents.”

Find out more about WasteWorks here.


Gloucestershire County Council switches to FixMyStreet Pro

SocietyWorks has launched a new, dedicated installation of FixMyStreet Pro for Gloucestershire County Council, through which residents can report local street, highway and environmental problems. 

Gloucestershire County Council joins more than 30 other local authorities, highways agencies and other public bodies in using FixMyStreet Pro for managing inbound reports of local problems such as potholes, broken street lights and problems with highway drains. 

Integrated with the Council’s asset management system Confirm, FixMyStreet Pro’s intelligent, map-based interface will make it much easier for residents to accurately report a problem and stay updated on its resolution.

Image shows a desktop computer and mobile device version of FixMyStreet Pro for Gloucestershire County Council

With all reports and their statuses displayed on the map, the ability to subscribe to existing reports and the automatic, nationwide diversion of reports that are the responsibility of another authority, FixMyStreet Pro will improve things for customers and help Gloucestershire County Council to better manage expectations, eliminate duplication of effort and reduce avoidable customer contact, freeing up staff time for urgent cases or to help residents who need additional support.

Designed as a progressive web app, residents can choose to use Gloucestershire County Council’s branded version of FixMyStreet Pro as a website or as an app, with no obligation either way.   

Cllr Dom Morris, cabinet member responsible for highways and flooding at Gloucestershire County Council said: “I am pleased to say it is now easier for people to report issues and keep updated on repair work. We are always looking for ways to be proactive and improve our highways services.

“This summer we have been trialling new methods to speed-up repairs and engineers have been working day and night to strengthen the road network. Fix My Street is another innovation that will improve things for our customers and boost efficiency. Keeping Gloucestershire moving is a top priority and the council are investing heavily in better roads for residents.”

Angela Dixon, Managing Director at SocietyWorks said: “Since its launch in 2012, every feature of FixMyStreet Pro has been built to meet the needs of councils and their residents. No two integrations of the solution are the same, because no two councils are the same, but they all benefit from its incredible ability to create an end-to-end reporting process that’s as intuitive as possible. We look forward to seeing the impact the solution has for Gloucestershire County Council and its residents.”

Request a short demo to see how FixMyStreet Pro could work for your authority.


SocietyWorks’ solutions meet the new WCAG 2.2 AA guidelines

As you are probably aware, W3C recently published an updated version of its Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Government Digital Service (GDS) will start to monitor for compliance with the new guidelines in October 2024. 

However, we’re pleased to say that SocietyWorks solutions already meet them, thanks to the way our design and development team build accessibility into our products as standard. 

What is WCAG 2.2?

WCAG 2.2 outlines the latest essential standards for making web content on desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile devices more accessible to a wider range of users. 

The guidelines incorporate a number of different accommodations and alternative interactions which enable people with disabilities of all kinds to simply and successfully access digital content and services.

Due to the scope of web content covered by the guidelines, there may be some which don’t apply to every solution.

Upon testing our products against the relevant aspects of the new success criteria, we’re delighted to say that our digital solutions are already 2.2 compliant.

What makes SocietyWorks’ solutions so accessible?

As a supplier of citizen-facing digital solutions to the public sector, we know our solutions need to cater to a broad audience with a wide variety of accessibility needs. SocietyWorks is heavily influenced by the GOV.UK Service Manual and strives to meet if not exceed the WCAG AA standards. 

Accessibility is built into our products as standard throughout the development and design process, which means we already meet the 2.2 level accommodations that apply to us. 

For example, all of the buttons and other pointer targets have a clickable area of at least 24x24px. We also ensure that text follows the contrast levels required by 2.2, and that content is arranged under clear heading hierarchies to make pages easier for users of screen readers and text-to-voice software.

For more information about how we make out solutions accessible, you can find out more here

Image: abdoudz


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