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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

WasteWorks - our new digital waste management service

Ready for collection: our new waste service for councils has launched

We’re very pleased to announce the launch of WasteWorks: a reliable, citizen-centred system for councils to manage all elements of domestic, bulky and green garden waste online, from missed bin reports to online payments for collections.

Designed with the same focus on usability that has made FixMyStreet and FixMyStreet Pro so popular with councils and citizens alike, WasteWorks makes the end-to-end process of managing waste online easier and more efficient through intelligent integration with in-cab software systems. So whether a resident needs to request a new container or set up a direct debit for a green garden waste subscription, it can all be done in one place.

With an intuitive, user-friendly interface that aids channel shift, the service helps councils reduce operating costs by lowering demand on customer service centres, while also dramatically improving the citizen user experience thanks to increased transparency and a self-service system that is easy to use on any device and which meets government accessibility standards.

“WasteWorks provides councils with the opportunity to bring about real improvements to the way citizens access waste services online.”

– David Eaton, SocietyWorks

WasteWorks can be integrated into any and all existing in-cab software systems (eg Alloy, Veolia/Echo and Bartec). Once connected and branded to complement the council’s website, the service acts as a one-stop shop for citizens to access all aspects of waste – whether that’s to report a missed bin within time frames specified by the council, to self-serve a payment for a bulky waste collection, or to set up an ongoing green garden waste subscription. Automated updates and templated responses make it easier for councils to manage expectations and deliver a more transparent service, while internal dashboards and visual heat maps enable staff to track service levels and identify trends.

David Eaton, Sales Director at SocietyWorks said: “WasteWorks provides councils with the opportunity to achieve much-sought after channel shift, create savings and bring about real improvements to the way citizens access waste services online. Understanding the importance of making it as easy as possible for residents to access the services they need, while also making sure public funds go as far as possible, we applied the easy-to-use user interface behind our popular FixMyStreet Pro service to waste, creating one front door through which citizens can make all reports and requests – be it for an assisted collection or for a green garden waste subscription – and removing the need to access and understand different fault reporting processes for different issues.”

“That same focus on usability has also been applied to the WasteWorks management interface for council staff, providing a simple experience that works in tandem with existing systems,” he added. “The result is a service that demonstrably puts citizens first, while lessening the burden on council staff.”

Like all of SocietyWorks’ public authority services, WasteWorks has been developed in consultation with councils and with citizens at its heart. Councils taking up the service will benefit from SocietyWorks’ unstinting focus on usability and continual development roadmap.

WasteWorks is available to all UK councils from today. Click here to request a demo.

Green garden waste service

What does the front-end of a green garden waste service need to do?

That’s a question our design team has been asking recently as part of our work on phase two of Bromley Council’s new citizen-centred waste product, which involves incorporating green garden waste subscriptions into the service.

“Subscriptions like green garden waste collections can involve multiple council systems and departments, so our task is to make sure that process feels natural and intuitive to residents,” explains SocietyWorks designer Zarino.

“In this project, we used prototypes to help us identify and confirm user needs—for both residents and council staff—pinning down exactly what the green garden waste service needs to do, and how the interface should work, to allow residents to create and manage their subscriptions in a way that suits them.”

The prototypes for the green garden waste front-end have now been completed and accepted by the Council, so we thought we’d lift the lid and let you take a look at how the front-end is shaping up.

So what does a green garden waste front-end need to do?

It needs to display green garden waste collections. The citizen needs to be able to identify their property and view all collection information related to it: whether a subscription is active, what are the previous and upcoming collections, the number of containers being collected and when the subscription renews.

It needs to provide self-service subscriptions to green garden waste collections. If no collections are set up for the property, the citizen needs to be able to complete a form providing relevant information for the council to create a subscription – collection address (from UPRN), contact information, whether new containers are required and payment details for the collection. The citizen should be encouraged to check their details are correct before submitting, and needs to agree to the terms and conditions. Once the payment has been processed and the citizen has been sent a confirmation email, a confirmation page reiterating that their subscription has now been set up should be displayed.

It needs to take requests for more or fewer green garden waste containers. On occasions when the citizen requires more or fewer containers, a multi-page form will help them to complete their request. This should ask how many containers are required, and should redirect the citizen to a cancellation form if they want to reduce containers to zero. Here again, the citizen needs to be able to self-serve all of the relevant information, and a confirmation needs to be available once the request has been submitted.

It needs to handle return or replacement requests of green garden waste containers. In this instance, the citizen needs to be able to define within a multi-page form why they need to return or replace a container and what actions they require next, if any. A summary of the information should be provided, and a confirmation that the request was submitted should be shown afterwards.

And it needs to enable subscription renewals or cancellations. The citizen needs to be able renew or cancel their subscription to green garden waste collections. For renewals, the citizen should be able to refine their subscription if needed (for example, request more or fewer containers), while for cancellations, the citizen needs to be shown what cancelling the subscription means and needs to be able to provide information on how many containers are to be returned to the council.

Of course, there are lots of other, more client-specific things the front-end for Bromley Council’s green garden waste service will do in addition to the above, but these are the essentials.

The green garden waste service we’re designing for Bromley Council is part of a broader waste service SocietyWorks will very soon be launching for all UK councils, built with years and years of experience putting citizens at the front and centre of local authority services. Book a demo to see how it works.

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Image: Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay

Bring increased fly-tipping costs under control with FixMyStreet Pro

How councils can bring increased fly-tipping costs under control with FixMyStreet Pro

Fly-tipping is one of the most expensive problems councils face. And incidents are on the rise.

In 2020, as the pandemic limited places and times to dispose of rubbish, fly-tipping reports increased by 44% on the FixMyStreet website, where citizens across the UK can report a variety of local issues to the correct authority. FixMyStreet Pro can help councils bring the increased costs of dealing with fly-tipping under control.

According to new data from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), local authorities in England dealt with just under 1 million fly-tipping incidents for the 2019-20 financial year.

With councils largely relying on residents to spot and report fly-tipping incidents, how can you encourage continued vigilance while also saving money as more reports come in? More importantly, how can you better demonstrate to your residents that you’re acknowledging the growing issue and responding to it accordingly?

Get a better handle on fly-tipping reports with FixMyStreet Pro.

Designed by a team with over a decade’s worth of experience putting citizens at the heart of local authority services, FixMyStreet Pro makes the reporting and handling of street and environmental issues like fly-tipping much easier and, as a result, cheaper.

Councils adopting FixMyStreet Pro for their citizen reporting can:

  • Create savings of up to 98% per report through channel shift.
  • Reduce the volume of duplicate reports by displaying already reported issues and allowing citizens to subscribe to alerts.
  • Provide a simple and intuitive reporting experience for citizens that improves the accuracy of the data you receive.
  • Streamline your service delivery through intelligent integration with all of your backend management systems.
  • Close the feedback loop by seamlessly extracting status updates and completion photos to manage the expectations of citizens.
  • Instill confidence in residents that environmental issues are being tackled robustly by achieving greater openness and transparency.

To discover how FixMyStreet Pro could help you better manage and respond to issues like fly-tipping, potholes, street lighting and much more, book a one-to-one demo with one of the SocietyWorks team.

Image: Karl Bewick on Unsplash

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