The London Borough of Croydon has joined Adur and Worthing Councils in a partnership to develop digital services using a low code platform.
They said they are aiming to foster the growth of a low code platform community among local authorities.
Neil Williams, Croydon’s chief digital officer, told UKAuthority that the structure of the partnership is still to be settled, but that it will involve people from both councils and they will take on Croydon’s experience from a project it is leading, backed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), on shared Drupal code for websites.
“A lot of the challenges are the same,” he said. “How to prioritise, communicate well, pool dev resources and share maintenance overhead across all participants.”
The move follows the work by the joint digital team of Adur and Worthing Councils with the Liberty Create (formerly Matssoft) cloud based platform to create services with a team of in-house developers. Its director for digital and resources, Paul Brewer, has championed the use of low code in local government, and it has developed services in areas including waste and recycling and housing repairs.
As part of the partnership Croydon has committed to a one-year trial of the platform, and a statement from the councils said that key selling points of low code are that it makes it easier to draw on in-house skills and reduces the costs of development.
Williams said that all of the services from the partnership will be based on using Liberty Create, which is also being used by Cumbria County Council and which the partners anticipate others will be ready to pick up.
“It will be a mix of taking, reusing and adapting each other’s apps and accelerators (modules on the Create platform), plus collaborating on new ones to meet common needs.”
He added that there is scope to develop other partnerships, pointing to a project for shared user research on adult social care needs, and the formation of a local government Drupal club.
He said: “Mine and Paul’s shared vision is to see this become more common across the sector for all technology choices as part of the stack, so that whenever we switch technologies there’s already a club of local gov users around it and some ready-made modules for local gov services.
“The majority of the value we will see lies in the user research and service design work. That’s portable across any platform, and the promise of low code is that it’s relatively quick to assemble a service, with the hard graft in designing a good service and busting the organisational silos to power it.”
The two councils are running an executive briefing on their approach for other local authorities in London on 27 March. Details from [email protected].
Image from Flazingo Photos, CC BY 2.0