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Hackney Council noise case management sprint notes: 8 June – 6 July 2021

These sprint notes are part of a series following our work with Hackney Council on the production of a noise case management system. View the previous notes here.

It’s a bumper edition of our Hackney noise case management sprint notes, this time covering two very busy sprints.

Service assessment

During the last two sprints, we prepared for and submitted the noise service we’ve been working on with Hackney for a service assessment. This was a chance for us to share the work we’ve been doing so far with a panel, and to check that we’re meeting the Service Standard by testing our work against fourteen Government Design Service (GDS) criteria.

On the day of the assessment, we were joined by Emma Gowan and Selwyn Preston from Hackney, as well as Phillipa Newis from Greenwich. 

We’re still waiting for the full assessment results, but we can certainly say that it was a really useful exercise for us to gain an external view of the service and take some guidance from experienced specialists from the government digital community.

Citizen user experience research

We also spent some time carrying out further research into the citizen experience of creating noise reports. Specifically, we wanted to find out more about what citizens want in terms of creating a diary of noise reports, how they want to see case history and the preferred way to receive notifications.

For this, we spoke to a sample of Hackney residents, 73% of whom had previously made noise reports. Our investigations found that most of them would rather be notified about their noise cases via email than via a text message, phone call or letter.

Interestingly, while 54% of the residents we spoke to say they would likely make their report on a mobile phone, the majority of them don’t want another app. This is fortunate, because we’re looking to build a responsive website that doesn’t leave older devices behind.

Take a look at some of our other findings:

Was it fairly easy to report the noise recurrence?

Was the language clear and easy to understand?

Is it useful to see a log like this, of all the actions following your complaint?

Alpha and Beta

The last two sprints saw us enter the final round of Alpha testing for the noise service. Wanting to be prepared for what happens next, the SocietyWorks team met internally to discuss the Beta part of the project.

First up on the list for this stage is to work out how the product will be built and to start creating tickets to document what we need to build. To start with, we’re focusing on allowing officers to reassign cases to each other. This will involve looking at how real-life staff profiles are set up within the system, instead of just the example profiles we have so far. 

Image: Nick Fewings

Hackney Council noise case management sprint notes: 25 May – 8 June 2021

These sprint notes are part of a series following our work with Hackney Council on the production of a noise case management system. View the previous notes here.

During the last sprint we focused on prototyping the system’s mobile-optimised interface to get a second round of feedback on some of the suggestions the team has already made in previous sprints, and also identify ways that the product can help officers attending noise complaints ‘on the ground’

The prototypes received some good feedback including:

  • Case list page works well – combination of filtering and searching by address or name addresses the needs of officers prioritising their work.
  • Great suggestion that the case page should display the number of previous cases at the given address, and/or number of notices previously served to the address – again, to help surface context that might affect the priority of a case.
  • Confirmation that officers expect to be notified by email when a case is assigned to them.
  • The concept of logging “actions” on a case generally makes sense to officers. Important to include failed actions as well – eg: “unable to contact reporter” or “phone unanswered”.
  • Extra information about perpetrators was valuable – we now need to investigate what we can show / where it would come from.
  • 100% of respondents said what they’ve seen so far would save them time compared to current or previous tools.

As we’re getting nearer to actually coding up some of these prototypes we’ve also had discussions about the infrastructure and languages used to develop the new NoiseWorks product as well as scheduling time in future sprints to start building the prototypes.

This sprint we’re testing the final set of prototypes around the citizen experience of the service. While most of the case management features are staff-only, we’re keen to get citizen feedback on how they access their past complaints, keep digital ‘diary sheets’ of noise re-occurrences and how they’d expect to be notified about updates to their case.

Image: Frederik Lipfert

SocietyWorks is working with Hackney Council to produce a noise case management service

Hackney Council noise case management sprint notes: 11 May – 25 May 2021

These sprint notes are part of a series following our work with Hackney Council on the production of a noise case management system. View the previous notes here.

We are now halfway through the Alpha phase of the project, which involves prototyping, testing and iterating the noise case management service. This sprint the testing focussed on how we could allow Hackney staff to filter and manage multiple cases, and this led to some really useful follow-up conversations with Principal Officers, which identified a more action-based approach as an intuitive way to help them quickly pick up and understand cases.

Findings from this sprint’s prototype testing included:

  • The importance of displaying full addresses when listing cases – including street and flat numbers.
  • Being able to find or filter cases by letters or notices that have been served to the perpetrator – this would help officers identify cases that need follow-up.
  • Ideas for better ways of prioritising cases – for example, by repeat offenders, breaches of notice, multiple complaints, or priority categories (like car alarms).
  • The usefulness of displaying actions that have been taken on a case, such as contact with residents, visits, notices, referrals.

Whilst ASB isn’t within the scope of this phase of the project, there is naturally some crossover between the noise and ASB teams at Hackney. This sprint we had a really energising meeting with members of the ASB team, where Beth and Soraya (the leads on this project at Hackney) took the team through the work we’ve done so far, to ensure we’re sharing as much knowledge as possible and learning from each other.

We’re proud to be working alongside Hackney Council to develop the new NoiseWorks product, and have already had some great feedback the staff at Hackney – Gerry, the Service Manager for Enforcement, in particular, thanked us for the work we’re doing, and appreciates that we’re taking the time to really involve and listen to the team.

Next sprint, we’ll be prototyping the system’s mobile-optimised interface to get a second round of feedback on some of the suggestions the team has already made in previous sprints, and also identify ways that the product can help officers attending noise complaints ‘on the ground’.

Image: Justus Menke

Noise case management with Hackney Council

Hackney Council noise case management: sprint notes 27 April – 11 May 2021

These sprint notes are part of a series following our work with Hackney Council on the production of a noise case management system. View the previous notes here.

We’ve moved to Alpha!

Work continues on the NoiseWorks product that we’re undertaking with Hackney Council to produce a robust, well-tested case management system for resident noise reports. 

While our Discovery phase saw us interviewing Hackney staff to understand everyone’s working processes and pain points with both current and past case management systems, the Alpha is an opportunity to test what we’ve learned, and really narrow down on a user needs focussed noise case management product. 

Each sprint during the Alpha we’ll be testing a different aspect of the workflow. This most recent sprint has been dedicated to the experience of creating, viewing and updating a single case. 

Hackney Enforcement team members have been individually invited to check out a Google Form which contains step-by-step questions and screenshots, as well as links to clickable prototypes. Forms like these are a great way to gather Alpha feedback that works around officers’ busy schedules, and also ensures we get clear, actionable information that can inform future rounds of prototyping and carve the path towards Beta.

We’ve seen some interesting feedback come out of the prototypes, for example: 

  • A much clearer steer on the first thing officers need to do when faced with a new case – 85% said they’d first check that all the complaint details and contact details were present and correct, so we’ll be looking to make that quicker to verify.
  • An increased emphasis on the exact location or identifying features of the noise source, such as vehicle registration numbers – especially when it comes to detecting multiple complaints that could be treated as part of the same “case”.
  • A reassuring sign that two thirds of respondents thought this product could help them save time compared to their current or past case management systems.

We’ll continue to work and evolve the prototypes with the feedback we’re receiving from the team at Hackney. 

We’re also making sure we maintain a balance between what staff users need without compromising on the citizen experience by asking Hackney residents to get involved with testing. Hackney have added a call-out on their Hackney Matters emails, which are sent to local residents, asking for citizens to get involved and give feedback – 22 people have already signed-up! Plus, we’re asking people who submit noise complaints whether they’d like to take part too. We’ll be making use of these contacts in a later sprint.

Got a question about this project? Ask us here.

Image: Possessed Photography

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

Sprint notes: 16 Mar – 1 Apr

Spring is in the air, the clocks have gone forward and it’s been another busy sprint for the SocietyWorks team – here’s what we got up to.

mySociety team meeting

We attended the first mySociety team meeting of the year (online, of course), where we took a look at what we’d achieved over the past 12 months, and what we need to achieve in the next 12. It was a great opportunity to speak to colleagues and share the SocietyWorks strategy and vision with the rest of the team.

During the meeting, we hosted various breakout sessions, including a marketing catch-up to see all the new things our Marketing & PR Manager Sally has been working on. We also reviewed our internal coding practises with Senior Developer Chris. We’ve got our fingers crossed for an in-person meeting soon, as much as we did all enjoy receiving cookies in the post to nibble on throughout the meeting!

Bromley waste project

As well as the team meeting, we’ve been continuing work on Bromley Council’s new waste project and have started our internal review process, in preparation for handover to the client in a few weeks’ time.

Hackney noise case management

We also made progress on our new product NoiseWorks with Hackney Council (read more about it here). We’ve been getting up to speed on the discovery interviews Zarino, one of our wonderful designers, has been holding and working out what our next set of priorities will be.

FixMyStreet Pro

We’ve also been meeting with lots of our FixMyStreet Pro customers, with Account Manager Clare holding her quarterly account management meetings. These meetings give us the chance to regularly check in and catch up with our clients to discuss feedback, issues and any concerns they may have. We also talk about the latest feature developments to FixMyStreet Pro, as well as providing a SocietyWorks product update, which currently includes our new WasteWorks product. Here again, we are very much looking forward to being able to see our clients face-to-face once more in the near future!

Image: Tatiana Rodriguez on Unsplash

Hackney Council new noise case manegement system sprint notes

Hackney Council noise case management: sprint notes

Those of you who’ve been following our blog closely over the last few months will know that we recently launched a new front-end noise reporting workflow for Hackney Council, designed to give citizens an easier, more secure way to submit a noise-related report to the Council.

Following on from that, we’re now working with Hackney to create a robust, well-tested case management back-end system that simplifies processes for the teams responsible for responding to and managing noise reports.

After a kick off meeting on 16 February, we started our first sprint on the 2 March – 16 March, during which our designer Zarino met with various key stakeholders at Hackney to capture information on how they currently work, and what they would need in order to make their working lives easier when handling noise reports. So far, we’ve had some really useful and insightful conversations and are getting a sense of pain points and areas of complexity. For sprints from 16 March onwards, Gillian will first be working with Louise, Operational Director, and then taking over as DM on the project for SocietyWorks.

Communication is key to any project, especially for one of this size, so as part of the project we’re holding two-weekly Show and Tell meetings, as well as an internal status update call in the weeks between. The Show and Tell meetings are hosted by Hackney, and recorded for stakeholders who aren’t able to attend. This also means they can invite the most relevant people to ensure it keeps everyone updated, but without having to take up too much of their time. We’ve also created a slide template together through which we share information beforehand and allow time for Q&As.

The internal status update acts as a check-in half way through the sprint to make sure things are going as planned, and to see if there are any new risks or blockers that need addressing. As with all of our calls, this is documented and then added to our communication tool, so the notes can be referred back to at a later date. 

We’ll be keeping you updated on the progress of this project every two weeks, so keep a lookout for the next post! 

If you’d like some more information about our new noise service development, or about SocietyWorks’ services in general, you can contact us here

Image: Paul Esch-Laurent on Unsplash

Road in the UK

Sprint notes: 16 Feb – 1 Mar 2021

The arrival of March (how fast did that come around?!) brought with it the end of the fourth SocietyWorks sprint of the year, so here’s your update on what the team got up to.

Magnificent maps

Peterborough City Council's FixMyStreet Pro reporting platform, with new OS maps

This sprint we worked with Peterborough City Council to introduce some new maps to their instance of FixMyStreet Pro using Ordnance Survey’s Maps API (which is totally free for PSGA members such as councils). The high-level OS maps available this way show a lot more detail to citizens, which should result in more accurate reports. We might be biased, but we think the new maps look beautiful.
The new maps are available to all FixMyStreet Pro customers – let us know if you want to display them, too.

Good-looking bins

Also with Peterborough City Council, we created some new bin icons to include on their in-development waste management system. This system will be integrated with Bartec and will allow citizens to report missed bins to the council easily online. Find out more about our new waste service here

Green garden waste

In more waste-related news, our green garden waste project with Bromley Council continues.  This sprint we have been focusing on the citizen forms and how to make the process of completing them as easy as possible. This was based on prototypes first, and is now being coded up after feedback from the client.

Pre-filled forms

Thinking about how we can improve the FixMyStreet Pro citizen user experience further still, we worked on creating the functionality to populate citizens’ details if they’ve already logged in to FixMyStreet to make report-making even smoother.

Customisable email templates

Another FixMyStreet Pro improvement, we’ve been working with London Borough of Bexley, who have recently created new email templates to keep their citizens informed on report progress. This is a key part of the product, and is very flexible, allowing our clients to send custom wording per status and category. 

Talking about noise

Also this sprint, we started our first rounds of interviews for the new noise case management project we’re working on with Hackney Council – we’ll be creating separate sprint notes every two weeks for this too, so look out for them.

Strategic thinking

As there is light at the end of the tunnel of this pandemic, we’ve also been looking at what the next three years could look like for SocietyWorks by creating a three-year strategy, giving us a clear path to follow and goals to work towards.

Awards

If you read our previous sprint notes, you’ll know that we’ve set ourselves the goal of celebrating our hard work more from now on. Sticking to our promises, we entered another award this sprint – this time it was the Digital Leaders Impact Awards. We decided on the Social Transformation category, focusing on the positive impact FixMyStreet Pro has on councils and their residents. Wish us luck!

New hires

Last not definitely least, we’re very excited to announce that we have recruited a new Project Manager, who will be starting next week! Once they’ve settled in we’ll introduce them to you all. 

Got any questions about anything we’ve mentioned here? Ask away.

Image: Jack Bassingthwaighte on Unsplash

Featured Image - FixMyStreet Pro is now integrated with Notify

FixMyStreet is now integrated with Notify

FixMyStreet Pro customers can now take advantage of a new feature for the service: the ability to connect to Notify and send status updates via text.

Just like a lot of the new service features we develop at SocietyWorks, they often start off as a great idea from a client.

On this occasion, it’s Hackney Council we have to thank; they came to us a few months ago with the desire to connect their GOV.UK Notify account with their FixMyStreet Pro instance in order to give citizens more options for staying informed about their reports.

It made perfect sense to us, so together we’ve been working on this co-funded piece of development, which, now that it’s completed, is available to all of our Pro customers. The work involved adapting the FixMyStreet SMS authentication functionality and adding the Notify functionality as the new SMS backend provider for the verification step.

For Hackney, the integration with Notify means that when a report is made to them, the site asks the report-maker for either their email address or mobile phone number, which, once verified, will create an account and enable the Council to provide text or email notifications about the report.

If you’re a Pro client and you’d like to connect your Notify account to your instance of FixMyStreet Pro, send us a message in helpdesk.

Not a Pro client yet but interested in becoming one? Get in touch with us here.

Image: Ono Kosuki on Pexels

Featured image - Listen More - Launching Hackney's new noise reporting system

Safe and sound noise reporting for Hackney Council

After several months of exploration, iteration and all-important consequence scanning, we are very pleased to have soft-launched Hackney Council’s new noise reporting workflow.

Built in collaboration with Hackney, this has been a really interesting project to work on; delving into what form noise reports should take, how to help citizens make a noise report that’s useful to councils even if the reporter is not exactly sure where the source of the noise is and how such reports can be made as securely and sensitively as possible.

The finished product is a secure, user-friendly and highly efficient private reporting form that Hackney’s teams and its residents will be able to make use of. 

Better reporting for noise complaints

Recognising the timely need for a better frontend noise reporting system, Hackney saw the early value in making the process of submitting such a report a smoother one for residents and for council staff. That’s where we came in.

By identifying whether the noise is commercial or residential before sending it directly to the team that can deal with it, our new noise service will help to make handling noise reports much easier. Meanwhile, providing a form which enables citizens to submit a better standard of location information using UPRNs first and foremost or broader map locations if the exact source of the noise cannot be confirmed will help to deliver reports that are more accurate, actionable and faster to address. 

Aside from being able to use a form that’s designed to help them provide the correct information to councils, another bonus for Hackney residents is that they will now be able to see all of their own reports, whether noise or otherwise, all in one place when they’re logged into Hackney’s version of FixMyStreet.

A quiet place 

With the potential for noise reports to be of a more sensitive nature, it was important to us and to Hackney that we get this noise service right. That’s why as part of the service development we ran a series of consequence scanning workshops to identify and mitigate potential negative outcomes. 

As a result, each noise report that’s made to Hackney will be private and will always be dealt with by a council staff member – no automated decision making involved. This helps to ensure that, whatever the report is about, it can be dealt with appropriately without anyone other than the reporter and the council needing to know about it.

Hackney is all ears

Being a new service, we’re looking forward to seeing how Hackney gets on with using it now that it’s soft-launched and listening to residents’ noise reports.

If noise reporting is something you are also interested in, the service can either be plugged into an existing FixMyStreet Pro package, like we’ve done for Hackney, or it can be fully integrated into whichever backend management systems you are using.

Sound like something you need? Find out more and drop us a message, we’d love to hear from you.

Image: Brett Jordan on Unsplash

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