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In brief .... 29 October 2015



Scotland pushes consultations online

The Scottish Government has moved its consultation process to the online hub it set up in April.

A blogpost by the digital engagement team says the change will make it easier to collate, analyse and publish contributions to consultations, and that is planning to make improvement on features such as the questionnaire design, accessibility and language.

The was built on the Citizen Space consultation tool designed by Delib, and provides a variety of question formats and the ability to embed different types of media.


Kent signs Agilisys for digital services

Agilisys has won the contract to run Kent County Council’s Digital Services team and Contact Point from December 2015 for at least six years.

The partnership is valued at £23 million over the period and will give the council access to the company’s customer contact system as the basis for modernisation.. Approximately 170 Kent staff will be transferring to Agilisys.

Paul Carter, the leader of Kent County Council, said: “In Agilisys, we have found a partner that can help us to take the next step in transforming the way customers interact with us across all channels, building on the high quality services that staff already deliver. As a result we will also be able to identify even greater savings through improved processes, giving the taxpayers better value for money.”


Arjuna targets software at smart cities

A company spun off from Newcastle University has set a recently developed software product at the smart cities market. Arjuna Technologies said its Agility DataBroker can cope with the “politics of data” and accelerate its distribution.

The company said the software responds to the problem of data from sensors and infrastructure devices overwhelming centralised facilities. The initial analysis and transformation of the raw data has to be done close to the periphery so only the relevant data is sent to the different beneficiaries.

Agility DataBroker automatically cleans, transforms and distributes the data, and adds a service agreement layer. Arjuna said this is important given that smart cities are federations of cooperating organisations that work under different rules for sharing their data.

Also, smart cities will need data from a myriad of sensors and devices, all of which are initially designed for specific purposes and organisations, all of which are subject to varying constraints. The software can take this into account in processing and distributing the data.


Inverclyde joins SWAN

Inverclyde Council has become the latest authority to join the Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN). The step has been taken under a deal, originally agreed in February 2014, with Capita IT Enterprise Services to connect 3,200 sites and 3,500 circuits, along with the construction of a core network and operations centre.

The council joins more than 50 other organisations in using the infrastructure, which is aimed at improving connectivity for the public sector across Scotland.

Councillor Stephen McCabe, leader of Inverclyde Council, said: “Residents will benefit from a better connected council and from more funding being available for front line services. Improved connectivity will also mean we can work more efficiently with other public sector bodies in Scotland.”


Hampshire partners with Capita on social care software

Capita One has announced that it is developing a new software for social care teams in a partnership with Hampshire County Council. Named One Social Care, it will provide a comprehensive dashboard of information on the background and circumstances of a child and their family from a PC or mobile device.

Steve Crocker, deputy director children and families at the council, said the system will support collaborative working. It will enable a social worker to view a child’s care plan and details of family links and relationships relevant to the case, alongside referrals and case notes from other teams involved with the family. They will also receive alerts if a child’s school attendance starts to slip or they are excluded.

 “The system will help provide greater clarity of a family’s situation and put teams in a much stronger position to be able to ‘de-escalate’ issues, before it becomes necessary to put more costly interventions in place,” Crocker said.


Go ON UK publishes exclusion heatmap

Digital inclusion charity Go ON UK has published a heatmap indicating levels of digital exclusion in local authority areas around the country. It uses a number of digital and social indicators and has been developed with support from the BBC, the Local Government Association, the London School of Economics and Political Science and Lloyds Banking Group.

Go ON has also produced an online community toolkit to support organisations that run digital skills activities. It is based on the charity’s offline regional programmes and contains guidance on how to help improve basic digital skills.


Conwy completes Wi-Fi roll out

Conwy County Council has finished the implementation of a guest wireless network at 50 of its sites using the Spark Guest WiFi solution.

When connecting to the network, visitors are taken to Conwy’s branded user-experience portal, and can then log in via social media or a registration form. The council has reported that there have been almost 10,000 early registrations.

Conwy receives monthly usage figures and can analyse the data through an analytics dashboard.


Barking extends Agilisys joint venture

The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham has confirmed a three year extension of Elevate East London, its joint venture with digital transformation partner Agilisys. It will take the migration of council services to digital platforms up to 2020.

Agilisys chief executive officer Steven Beard said:  “I am particularly pleased that we are moving beyond being a service provider. We are now working closely with Barking to deliver their ambitions for the Borough by leveraging the expert knowledge base of the wider Agilisys family and enabling Barking and Dagenham residents to enjoy one of the best online experiences offered by any council in the country.” 


Research shows funding dominates council challenges

Most local government staff regard reduced funding as their biggest challenge for the next 12 months, according to research by Dods for software vendor Unit4. Questions on technology trends to more than 1,000 officials show that 98% regard the funding outlook as a threat, with 65% listing it as “severe”.

Among the other findings was that two-thirds have already adopted shared services and 34% regard it as a high priority, with HR and payroll being the areas with the most potential for sharing.

Also, 50% see security as the main barrier to adopting cloud computing, and 34% did not know about the G-Cloud.


Cabinet Office stages ‘job hack’

Developers have been given the chance to use open government datasets in a hack event sponsored by the Cabinet Office to help young people access job and training opportunities.

The event took place on 19 October and involved the participants working with tech specialists in designing applications and solutions using the datasets, which will be presented to the Earn or Learn Taskforce, chaired by Minister for the Cabinet Office Matt Hancock.

The datasets covered areas such as employment statistics, school performance tables and apprenticeship vacancies.


Capita to provide housing software to Havering

The London Borough of Havering has awarded a five year, £380,000 contract to Capita to use its OPENHousing software suite.

The contract has been agreed as part of the council’s business transformation programme. Capita will also supply a dedicated mobile working platform.


Edinburgh to roll out LED lighting

City of Edinburgh Council has agreed on proposals to convert its 54,000 street lights to energy-efficient LED (light emitting diodes). This follows the replacement of 7,000 obsolete lanterns with LED lights last year, and is forecast to save the city £77 million over the next 20 years.

The business case for the project included the use of a central management system to make it possible to remotely alter lighting levels in the street through an office computer. It will also make it possible to adjust lighting levels in response to long term changes in features such as traffic flows.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, transport and environment convener for the city, said: “Our aim is to draw on experience gained from the first phase of white lights which has allowed us to gauge demands on lamp brightness and control for residents and traffic.”


itSMF partners with Axelos

The IT Service Management Forum (itSMF) has agreed a global partnership with Axelos, the joint venture between the Cabinet Office and Capita  which owns the ITIL best practice framework for ITSM and the PRINCE2 standard for project management.

itSMF has over 6,000 member organisations and more than 100,000 service management professionals within its fold. As part of the partnership they will be able to take advantage of lifetime discounted membership of the Axelos Professional Development Programme.

The organisations will also co-host forums, conduct a joint annual global ITSM survey, and co-develop and share white papers.

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