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Better Connected programme update – 13 April 2018

Fri 13 Apr 2018
Vicky Sargent

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Find my councillor - results are out

We’re publishing results of our survey ‘Find out about my councillor’ on April 13. The survey covered district and Northern Ireland councils and found that 39% provide a good or very good service. This is fewer than the 46% of the districts that scored similarly in 2015 although that survey, being under the old BC regime, was significantly less testing. That said, ‘council and democracy’ areas on websites show little sign of investment in the simplest of things that would be major improvements for site visitors, like postcode lookups to ‘find my councillor’. There has been no increase on the 60% that provide this in the three years since we last looked. Find the report linked from https://betterconnected.socitm.net/services

How will you be promoting the elections and publishing results this May ?

If yours is one of the 151 councils holding elections on 3 May, how will you be presenting results and how quickly? Better Connected has in the past noted significant differences in the way councils promote and publish local election information. Much of this is down to the resources made available, and whether teams are supported or encouraged to stay up overnight to get results published on the website as soon as they are declared (there is no obligation upon councils to do this). The Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) Guide to Election Communications 2018 is packed with helpful advice. 

Video: why publishing local election results is so hard - and why this needs to change

People waking up after local elections and turning to their council website for results are often disappointed. To put this right, the LGiU guide suggests a minimum level of results publishing that every council should be able to achieve. But that doesn’t provide the whole country picture, which depends on gathering all the results and presenting them, ideally, on a national map. To the lay person this might seem like local government incompetence and in the past, LGiU produced a fast, national map solution by huge manual effort. This year, for the first time, the LGiU map will be digitally enabled, thanks to support from the data mapping provider Mapolitical. But this is only a partial solution. As our video explains, were local authorities to expose their elections data as open data to the LGA-agreed standard, this process could be fully automated for the benefit not just of interested voters, but of the whole democratic fabric.

27 June in London: Local Government and the digital citizen

Catch up with peers and experts to take stock of where development of council websites and the digital services they present – ie the bit of councils that most citizens actually interact with – is headed. In a series of sessions we will review the quality of the citizen experience overall and drill down into provision by key sectors like waste and recycling, social care, planning, and housing. We will look at cross cutting issues like customer accounts, identity and registration, the role of open data, new accessibility requirements on public sector sites starting from September, and the implications of Whitehall-delivered applications for services traditionally provided locally, like voter registration and blue badges. Places will be strictly limited (event organisers always say that, but we mean it!), so look out for a mailing very soon about how to book.

New – the combined search/navigation/A-Z and mobile test

This year we are combining the search/navigation/A-Z and mobile tests. Doing the two separately led to quite a bit of unnecessary duplication so we have boiled the essentials down to one test, in which the navigation testing is done on a smartphone and the search and A-Z on the desktop. The new survey has been thoroughly tested and is now underway for real. We are very pleased to have the support of Zengenti for this survey.

Tell GDS about your experience with accessibility

User researchers from Government Digital Service want to talk to web managers of local authority websites, including linked-but-separately-managed websites for eg leisure centres, museums and libraries. They are looking to understand challenges around the new legal requirements on accessibility in the EU Directive coming into effect this Autumn, and what kind of guidance and support might help you.  Please contact leon.hubert@digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk  if you’d be willing to have a short chat about it. NB We are very delighted that Alistair Duggin, Head of Accessibility at GDS will be joining us on 27 June to talk about how council web teams should be preparing for the Directive. Gavin Evans of Digital Accessibility Centre will also be there.

Case study: how Swindon redesigned and automated their garden waste service

Our Better Connected survey shows that three quarters of councils tested have introduced charges for garden waste services. Given that these services involve high volumes, payments, bin deliveries, frequent collections, service signups, cancellations AND annual renewals, getting the right customer enquiry/management arrangements in place, integrated with waste management systems, is key. This case study describes how Swindon redesigned their existing garden waste subscription service and implemented Jadu’s Continuum CXM, a customer portal that enables people to be kept up to date in real-time with requests and enquiries. It automates enquiry management and is able to integrate with existing back office systems using Jadu’s Integration Hub.

Enquiries: email betterconnected@socitm.net or contact Vicky Sargent, Programme Director, Better Connected via v.sargent@boilerhouse.co.uk

 

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