Take a look at what we’ve been up to over the last 12 months as we continue our mission of helping local authorities and other public sector organisations better serve citizens through effective and intuitive digital solutions.
As 2023 draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on the journey we have been on as an organisation during the past year. We have experienced incredible highs such as being named a finalist in the LGC Awards for the second year running (this time for work carried out in partnership with Buckinghamshire Council), and heart breaking lows with the passing of our dear friend, Francis Mainoo, who served as a non-executive director on our Board.
2023 was a year of evolution for SocietyWorks. We codified our strategy for the next three years, focusing on increasing societal impact by helping our public sector clients deliver their statutory duties in an increasingly complex landscape. Also this year, we were excited to launch a Welsh-language version of FixMyStreet, and to release a long-awaited update to the FixMyStreet app, using a progressive web app to enable everyone to enjoy the same intuitive user experience of the service. Plus, we have made significant improvements to our residential waste portal, WasteWorks, including the additions of bulky goods and assisted collections.
One of the things I think most sets SocietyWorks apart from other suppliers is that this team understands how small things can make a big difference – and we genuinely do listen to our users. I was struck by this earlier in the year while attending the LGA Conference, where a councillor provided feedback on a minor change that would improve their experience of one of our services. This could easily have been brushed under the carpet, or forgotten about. But it wasn’t. The feedback was passed through to our development team, who reviewed it and responded promptly by actioning this change. What started as a simple conversation led to a clear problem definition and an effective delivery response, ultimately resulting in a better user experience for all, plus a very happy councillor.
There is little doubt that 2024 will see increasing pressure on local authorities, with political turbulence and even tighter budgets ahead. We recognise the challenges our clients and the sector face and are committed to being collaborative, helpful and open in all our interactions, while providing cost-effective solutions that help bring councils and other public sector bodies closer to the citizens they serve.
When we scan the news, we see significant uncertainty in our political and operating landscapes. Decision making is difficult in such complex and uncertain times. We see new and flashy digital tools being hailed as the saviour to budget pressures, set amidst confusion over what the actual problems are to be solved and how these tools will actually solve them. Times are hard, but I remain optimistic that we can carve a way through if we work intelligently, openly and collaboratively. The needs of the citizens that we ultimately serve demand that we find a way through.
Every member of the SocietyWorks team is focused on how they can take pain away from our clients and remove unnecessary friction from workflows and processes. Using our digital solutions, with effective integration and automation of data flows, we have delivered significant efficiencies to our clients throughout 2023. We care about improving citizen outcomes, and we know that if we support local authorities to deliver services by effectively using digital solutions, the positive impact to society will flow through. I am proud of what we have achieved this year, and I look forward to seeing what 2024 brings.
We exist to extend the impact of our parent charity mySociety and contribute to the creation of a world where all citizens can access public sector services with ease through intuitive and simple to use digital solutions.
and other public authorities using FixMyStreet Pro to provide a truly joined up reporting service for local problems.
made via FixMyStreet, mySociety’s nationwide reporting service, and FixMyStreet Pro in 2023.
incorporated into WasteWorks, including green waste, bulky waste, small items and assisted collections.
in progress chasing calls from residents into Buckinghamshire Council’s customer contact centre*.
of our solutions launched for councils across the UK throughout this year.
completed between our solutions and other existing software used by our clients to achieve even more efficiencies.
translated into Welsh for a new Welsh-language version of FixMyStreet.
of building citizen-centred digital solutions for the public sector, through our connection to mySociety.
Pothole fixed within 10 hours of being reported! Thank you @fixmystreet @CamdenCouncil. This pothole had been there for at least a month so it's defo worth reporting things. @camdencyclists pic.twitter.com/v2BFBCvdvU
— Paul Allen (@MarsFlyerPaul) September 5, 2023
A clear and effective guide for public authorities on how to provide useful FOI disclosure logs (inc some opinions from me) https://t.co/xjSho17trX
— Martin Rosenbaum (@rosenbaum6) May 18, 2023
On 24 May 2023, via @fixmystreet I reported a loose manhole cover which had been plaguing my walking commute on Grantham High Street. Since then, I received several helpful updates. 15 business days later, job done. Very well done @LincolnshireCC 🙌 pic.twitter.com/EruGZQdYk5
— Nicola MB (@nicola_mb) June 17, 2023
So yesterday I reported this @bt_uk box covered in graffiti on @fixmystreet in Charlton Church Lane and this morning I pass a @Royal_Greenwich operative cleaning it off! Great service, just hope BT pays + recorded as crime by @metpoliceuk pic.twitter.com/9uYmjOs3i1
— David Gardner 🇪🇺🇬🇧🌍🇺🇦 (@David_Llew) July 25, 2023
Browse some of the research and best practice guidance we published this year for local authorities and the wider public sector, and catch up on some of the knowledge sharing webinars we delivered.
Who are the UK’s current, active, report-making citizens – and who is missing? What problems are they reporting and where are they reporting them? This report seeks to answer all of these questions and more, as well as signposting to some other existing research to support our understanding of the issues raised in the report.
Produced in collaboration with the FOI experts on mySociety’s Transparency team, who run the well-used WhatDoTheyKnow request service, and expert FOI consultant Martin Rosenbaum, who was the BBC’s leading specialist in using freedom of information for journalistic purposes, this guide explores why, although not a legal requirement, using a disclosure log is a must for local authorities – and how to do it successfully.
Published earlier this year in the Spring 2023 edition of the Irish Local Authority Times, this research article uses national FixMyStreet data to explore who reports local, place-based problems such as potholes and dog fouling the most, and how this differs in areas of more and less deprivation.
Back in March, our Managing Director Angela Dixon delivered a best practice session on closing the feedback loop between local authorities and residents as part of Public Sector Insight Week 2023. The session was recorded, so if you’re interested to hear what Angela had to say about how to fix the common problems local authorities face when feedback loops are broken, click below.
We also took part in Digital Leaders Week this year, at which Bekki Leaver, our Head of Product, ran a session on how to avoid ending up in a data walled garden when seeking new tools and solutions. The recording of the session is available to watch on YouTube – click the link below to watch it.
“We chose FixMyStreet Pro because it was the most user friendly street cleaning platform on the market. It takes away the stress of knowing who to contact at the council about issues we know our residents really care about, like fly tipping. We look forward to working with residents through FixMyStreet Pro to keep our streets cleaner, greener and healthier.”
Cllr Catherine Rose, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Parks, Streets & Clean Air at Southwark Council
We were thrilled to be finalists in the LGC Awards for the second year running; this time in the Technology category in recognition of our work in partnership with Buckinghamshire Council to unify the fault reporting process between the unitary authority and approximately 84 of its 171 parish and town councils.
“We are using technology to get the report to the right team, as well as managing customer expectations at the first point of contact. This is a game changer!”
Lloyd Jeffries, Service Director (Business Operations) at Buckinghamshire Council
Our solutions are built in partnership with councils, based on user needs. Take a look at some of the new features we have rolled out to clients this year.
Why was my bin not collected? When will my bin next be collected? Will collection schedules change over the bank holiday? Councils can answer all of these questions in advance via WasteWorks to better manage expectations and reduce failure demand.
A new report category enables citizens to report abandoned hire bikes and e-scooters in and around London directly to the responsible operator. This currently includes Lime, Dott, Forest and Tier, as well as Transport for London, which manages London’s Santander Cycle scheme.
As well as being a user-friendly front door to residential waste information, WasteWorks now provides councils with the ability to take bookings, subscriptions and payments for various different waste collections – all facilitated via integration with existing systems.
FixMyStreet Pro encourages users to subscribe to existing reports of issues instead of re-reporting them. Previously, the radius for this feature was fixed at 250 metres. However, at the request of our clients, we have now made this customisable.
60% of FixMyStreet’s users access the site from mobile devices. Crosshairs make it even easier for report-makers to position the pin accurately on the map when using smaller mobile devices, especially those with touchscreens.
2023 saw the very exciting launch of a Welsh-language version of FixMyStreet, translated by Dai Lingual, and complete with Welsh-language map tiles provided by Mapio Cymru.
“FixMyStreet was built to make it easier for citizens to report problems in their communities. We are delighted to be able to make the service accessible to Welsh-speaking citizens, with a fully translated reporting process and a Welsh-language map, enabling users to select the street names and locations with which they are familiar. We look forward to seeing the Welsh-language version of the service put to good use by more citizens who care about improving where they live.”
Louise Crow, Chief Executive at mySociety
Thank you to the 35 local authorities and other public sector organisations in the UK and abroad who trust us to deliver accessible, effective and simple to use digital solutions, including…
“WasteWorks has enabled Sutton Council to provide a seamless and much improved online experience for Sutton residents. SocietyWorks has been extremely sensitive to our needs as an organisation and worked tirelessly to provide the authority with solutions in a very short timeframe that benefit the borough as a whole.”
Paul Brockwell, Interim Head of Waste and Street Cleaning at the London Borough of Sutton
We have loved hosting and taking part in various events this year, both online and in person, catching up with clients and meeting people from across the sector to discuss shared challenges and explore solutions. These include…
This year we welcomed two new team members:
Joined us as Account Manager, bringing a wealth of FOI experience from her time on mySociety’s WhatDoTheyKnow team, as well as in depth knowledge of how FixMyStreet Pro works in practice from her time working at Transport for London, where she was involved in the implementation of its version of the service, known as Street Care.
Who took on the busy role of Business Development & Account Manager. Chris is currently providing maternity cover for fellow Account Manager Nicolle, while also working closely with Amelia to drive new business for SocietyWorks, the profits of which are all donated back into our parent charity mySociety.
If you missed it, we blogged recently about how we’re currently in the process of exploring in collaboration with clients how their members of staff use our solutions, what other tools interact with ours and where things could be made better for them. This work continues into the new year, and we’ll be sharing more updates on our progress soon.
Every decision we make about the future of our products is influenced by the needs of our users – both councils, public sector organisations and citizens. 2024 will find us seeking out the latest feedback and ideas to ensure we focus on finding solutions for the most pressing challenges facing the public sector and meeting ever-changing expectations.
Through our connection to mySociety, we have now been providing citizen-centred digital solutions to the public sector for 20 years. During this time we’ve developed a strong understanding of how to support councils and other public sector organisations with technology that enables smart and achievable digital transitions to deliver more accessible and efficient public services. In 2024 you can expect to see us share more of what we’ve learned through research reports and guidance, as well as highlighting positive case studies from our community.
There’s a very exciting piece of development in progress for FixMyStreet, which will also benefit our FixMyStreet Pro users. Once it’s finished, report-makers will be able to find an available category to report their problem using a search function instead of selecting from a list. This should make it quicker for users to accurately find what they’re looking for.
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This year mySociety celebrated its 20th anniversary. Read the charity’s 20th Anniversary Impact Report to discover what they’ve been up to, and what’s coming next.