Digital transformation – case studies

 

  1. Cornwall Council

Tackling digital exclusion

Digital Exclusion is a significant issue for Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly, with latest ONS data finding that 13% (71,000 people) have never used the internet, compared with 9% nationally.

There are many organisations across the region that are working to tackle Digital Inclusion barriers, such as accessibility, affordability, skills, and trust. However, there has been a lack of an overarching strategy within which these organisations could align and focus their efforts. Recognising this, a multi sector group led by Cornwall Council was formed. This group produced a multi-sector Digital Inclusion Strategy for Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly, setting out a framework and goals for the next four years.

Early evidence suggests the strategy is having an impact. The strategy has been used by the LEP to secure Digital Skills Partnership Status from the DCMS, one of only six in the country.

 ‘Digital Cornwall’ Programme

Cornwall Council are embarking on a £20m organisation wide ‘Digital Cornwall’ programme, featuring a range of initiatives to reduce risk, generate efficiencies, improve customer experience and lay the foundations for a continuous digital transformation journey.

One of the early successes of the programme has been the delivery of various technologies which enable the workforce to work differently. This includes rolling out Skype to 7000+ employees, a new WIFI infrastructure, new meeting room technology, and replacing over 3000 mobile and desktop devices. The benefits of this are already being seen, with 90,000 fewer business miles travelled per month, a reduction of 2.5m c02 emissions, and faster system access times.

  1. Devon County Council

Quick adoption of new technology

Devon County Council has been using digital technologies to break down barriers between departmental data and systems to help their employees work better together.

5,000 employees were moved from Microsoft Office 2010 to Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus and Microsoft Teams. To get the most benefit of this new technology, the council needed unanimous adoption. However, the Council had struggled with adoption rates of new technology in the past, so it turned to the Microsoft Services Adoption and Change Management (ACM) team to learn how to increase the speed and percentage of adoption.

After learning the Microsoft ACM methodology through a pilot involving 500 users, the Council has been able to roll out the new technologies to the rest of the organisation on its own. Distribution of new digital technologies to three departments (Communities, Public Health and Environment and Prosperity) has produced a 427% increase in active Microsoft Teams users and a 100 percent increase in OneDrive for Business users. The council expects to complete the Office 365 rollout to all departments by May 2020.

Redesigned Blue Badge service

Devon County Council have recently begun to use the Outsystems low code digital platform. This will allow them to rapidly build digital services that meet the needs and expectations of users.

The first service selected to be redesigned using the digital platform was the Blue Badge service. This has involved integrating with the Department for Transport’s digital systems for issuing badges, the use of the Gov Notify programme, and a new document upload application. The result has been a reduction in calls to the customer service centre, and a reduction in the time it takes to make a blue badge application from up to 12 days to something that can occur in less than one day. The new service is providing considerable efficiency savings, making it easier to work with partners, and is providing a much better customer experience.

  1. East Sussex County Council

Supporting social workers

East Sussex County Council social work services hold career events to attract potential new social workers. Their IT&D service have supported these events by showcasing the agile technology that the Council uses to support social workers in their role. This includes:

  • Showing the modern tablet laptops that are issued to social workers as standard kit
  • Demonstrating the use of their care management applications on the technology
  • Demonstrating how case conferences and team meetings can be run over collaboration applications bringing remote locations into the same room.
  • Evidencing the work-life balance approach and how the technology supports this

Feedback from social work services following the last event was very positive. A number of potential applicants fed back that they were so impressed with the new incoming technology that it convinced them to apply. This has in turn helped the IT service to shape the Councils technology strategies.

Digital competencies and Modern Working Personas

East Sussex County Council’s ambition is to be a modern council for a digital age. To achieve this, there is a focus on developing digital competencies alongside digital initiatives.  In the next 18 months, the Council are refreshing core productivity tools, such as rolling out Apple iPhones, upgrading to Windows 2010 and moving to Microsoft Outlook 365 in the Cloud.

The aim is to see these not as technology refresh exercises, but as an opportunity to develop skills, culture and new ways of working. The proposed approach is to develop a programme to maximise the use of these productivity tools by creating ‘Modern Working Personas’. These personas tailor the use of technology around what each member of staff does in order to provide flexibility for them, efficiency for the Council and better support and service for the customer. The Modern Working Personas will be supported by a Learning and Development programme that will then build stronger digital thinking as a core capability in the workforce.

  1. Hampshire County Council

Assistive Technology

Four years ago, Hampshire County Council entered a partnership with PA Argenti, a consortium led by PA Consulting, to make greater use of assistive care technology. Together they co-created a new service to ensure care technology became a central part of the work of social care teams with both older adults and younger adults with disabilities.

The consortium work directly with care managers to help incorporate technologies including alarms, sensors, fall detectors (linked to a 24/7 monitoring centre), epilepsy sensors and medication reminders into the care packages they provide.  The current service delivers to approximately 9,600 service users each year, and provides a range of devices and services, including:

  • A ‘Lifeline’ package consisting of a discreet pendant alarm which is worn around the neck or on the wrist which connects to the Argenti emergency monitoring centre at the press of a button.
  • A ‘Falls’ package providing added protection for individuals who may be at risk of falling by automatically raising an alert if it senses an issue.
  • A ‘Mobile’ package providing reassurance for people with active lives whilst out and about using GPS technology for added protection to help locate people with dementia or risk of wandering.
  • A ‘Safe at Home’ package extending protection for people who may experience day to day risks around the home such as fires, floods, leaving the cooker on or bogus callers.

As part of the engagement with Argenti, the Council also recently undertook a technology trial deploying Amazon Smart Speakers and other consumer technology into the homes of 50 people with care needs. The results have been encouraging, with the Amazon Echo care trial winning the 2018 International Technology Enabled Care Award for Innovation.

Better use of data

The next stage of Hampshire County Council’s digital transformation is to leverage and exploit the huge amount of data they hold as a local authority. This is to progress their analytics capability from descriptive and diagnostic, to predictive. The improved insight gained from enhanced analytics will facilitate better and more timely decision-making, as well as operational efficiencies.

To make this happen, the Council is implementing a ‘Data Lake’ using Microsoft Azure Analytics and increasing their use of Microsoft Power BI as the interrogation and visualisation engine.  The implementation of a Data Lake will allow the council to bring together different and diverse data-sets from across the organisation and facilitate the identification of trends and patterns from data which has up to now been disconnected.

The next steps are to build a full production quality implementation of the Data Lake so that it can add new internal and external data sets in the future, including a ‘Children Looked After’ dashboard as a live production report for use by Children Services.

  1. Hertfordshire County Council

Website redevelopment

Hertfordshire County Council have redeveloped their website, using cheaper, more flexible technology and a centralised web content model to improve the customer journey and experience and reduce calls to their customer service centre.  HCC also publish web performance data to help benchmark with others, which has resulted in co-ordinated discussions with other councils.

The website redesign was a fully agile programme of work, and the user-led testing panel created to develop the site is still active. This project was the first user led initiative for the County Council and has helped colleagues to understand and value the benefits of being customer-led. Further information on the website redesign can be found on the following links:

Digital transformation projects

Hertfordshire County Council are working on a number of other digital focused projects through their digital strategy, including:

  • A SEND Transformation project which began in January 2019 and is developing empathy maps, draft personas and an online feedback group. The work is also developing online Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), a ‘Local Offer’ website, and exploring other digital opportunities. Click here for further information on the SEND Transformation project.
  • Developing ‘Waste centres of the future’ that include bin capacity sensors, parking sensors and electronic display boards that provide user research and digital support. Real time graphs monitor visitors to the sites and webcams monitor queues (all of which is displayed on their website here).
  • Implementing electronic van permits which is providing £5-6k savings per month and has already made a return on the initial investment as well as management oversight for the contractor. A second phase of this work will increase functionality, including using QR codes to remove data inputting, additional data recording to support compliance and communication across sites. Click here for further information on electronic van permits.
  • Co-ordination of a locality based DigitalHerts group to bring together our district council partners as well as the university, police and health on emerging technologies. Click here for further information on DigitalHerts.

 

  1. North Yorkshire County Council

Parish Portal

North Yorkshire County Council’s in-house development team has built a parish portal to automate and streamline service requests from parish clerks regarding highways defects. The portal has enabled the Council to access real-time information on subsequent progress and repairs.

The Council was receiving approximately 6,000 emails regarding highways defects every year. There was a significant opportunity to shift these service requests to an online channel, improving the communication between highways and parish clerks, and reducing the administrative burden created by the inefficiencies of the existing process.

The Council wanted to harness innovative User Experience Design (UX) techniques to develop a portal that was easy to use and could be adopted by parish councils. To this end it applied to the LGA Channel Shift Programme for support in building UX skills across its in-house development team.

The parish portal was launched on 16 June 2017. In December 2018 there were 363 users of the portal and over 4,000 service requests had been received via the service. Service request communications now go from the parish to the highways officer and back to the Parish automatically.

At launch the portal was very well received by parishes, highways and customer services staff. It achieved significant take-up thanks to the prior engagement work with parishes, and by the end of 2018 there were 363 parish users, or 62.5% of the target audience, with ongoing efforts to reach 80 per cent uptake.

Staffordshire County Council

Staffordshire Connects 

In 2017 Staffordshire County Council had four different websites that were separate to their main website, all of which were not meeting their intended purpose. These websites, and the problems they faced, were:

  • Staffordshire Cares – A directory site of local community and voluntary sector organisations offering help and support for people to maintain their independence. This site contained out of date information and had very low traffic to the pages.
  • The Family Information Service – A directory for childcare and educational establishments for parents to access on behalf of their children. Whilst full of up to date and useful information, this site was not mobile responsive and was extremely dated.
  • The SEND Local Offer – This site offered information, advice and guidance (IAG) for parents of SEND children, including directory services. This site was out of date and not fit for purpose.
  • CareMatch – This site matched self-funders or people in receipt of a direct payment with carers and support workers. This site was provided by a third-party provider who offered little value for money.

In the summer of 2018, these pages were combined into one site called Staffordshire Connects. The aims of Staffordshire Connects were to be modern, up to date, easy to navigate and mobile responsive. Since launch, there have been several benefits, including significantly increased website traffic, an improved customer journey, improved user experience, increased traffic to the pages and a better IAG offer.

Using Artificial Intelligence in SEND  

The Digital Team at Staffordshire County Council are currently working on a project with their Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) service to understand how artificial intelligence (AI) can improve the development of Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP).

Staffordshire County Council partnered with Ealing Council and Suffolk County Council to secure funding from the Local Digital Fund to carry out an ‘alpha’ project with a company called Social Kemistri. The project focused on using AI to speed up processes and improve outcomes for SEND children. Software has been created that can read the EHCP’s, which can be over 100 pages long, and then assess need, establish outcomes, and identify potential provisions.

Following the alpha testing, forecasted savings for the project are in the region of 25% to the SEND budget in addition to improvements in outcomes for SEND children. Staffordshire are now working with their partners and Social Kemistri to secure a further investment of £1.4m to fully implement the software in a local authority.

  1. Suffolk County Council

‘Our Digital Business’ Strategy

The development of Suffolk County Council’s ‘Our Digital Business’ strategy has sought to build on the first iteration of their digital strategy and other good practice in the sector. Historically, digital was seen as an addition to core business. However, the Council have now repositioned their digital approach to better understand how they can use technology and the internet to deliver its business for the benefit of the people of Suffolk.

This approach is exemplified by the ‘Free Me’ project, which aims to better connect staff, processes and technology. The Council looked at what bandwidth, locations, devices, software and applications staff needed to do the job with a view to maximising the use of technology to support flexible working. Taking a wider approach to digital has engaged staff, and a recent Peer Review found that staff value the opportunities available to them to work remotely and flexibly and an organisational culture has been developed to enable and encourage flexible working.

Moving forward, Suffolk are working on other exciting projects as part of the ‘Our Digital Business’ strategy, including digital care, working with local tech sector, rolling out Full-Fibre Networks with DCMS and piloting innovative ideas such as low power networks and robotic process automation.

Digital and School Transport

One of the areas of innovation includes partnering with BT Adastral Park in Suffolk (BT’s global research facility and a tech cluster of over 120 tech companies). The Council worked with the algorithms and optimisation research function to use some of BT’s route planning software. This information, combined with the Council’s transport knowledge and data about school transport, led to work on route optimisation and planning to create better, cheaper ways of getting children to school. The result has been a product currently in testing called ‘Pegasus’.

The Council have learned from this approach and created a ‘public sector innovation’ centre. The centre aims to bring together the best of local government with the local tech sector to stimulate innovation. The Council are also planning to launch an innovation framework to get local tech companies to sign up to partnership working and tackle challenges such as public sector procurement and culture change.