Local Digital's project to develop reusable service improvement standards for council waste services will begin implemention in the coming weeks following a 10-week research phase.
The local-central government project, from DCLG's Local Digital programme, is part of a 'proof of principle' pilot that has seen the co-design and development of replicable products and methods aimed at any local authority and in some cases, private sector organisations.
The standards have been designed to improve the efficiency of (in order of importance): missed bin collections, fly tipping, modifying collection rounds and bulky waste disposal. Reporting to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and simplifying tendering and contracts also ranked highly.
Councils will be able to 'plug in' to the standards via a waste services application programming interface (API), developed from the findings of the research or 'discovery' phase. APIs standardise data and enable disparate systems to 'talk' to one another for more joined-up services.
The waste service standard API will allow a seamless connection between in-cab waste vehicle reporting systems, customer services and web services, and missed bin collection reporting and rescheduling.
The API could help to provide an app which could be rebranded by any council to provide a 'package' of waste services directly to residents: for example, allowing them to report missed bin collections online or 'order a new bin at 3 o'clock in the morning', according to one of the development team.
The project team will also develop a business case for end-to-end waste service design, and key performance indicators (KPIs) for driving service improvements in waste services and monitoring the impact of standards over time. Further down the line, the team plans to develop standard clauses for waste service contracts and business case material to clarify the purpose of standards to budget holders.
The discovery phase was based upon events that took place at each partner local authority (Adur & Worthing Councils, Brentwood Borough Council, Bristol City Council, Calderdale Council and Luton Borough Council), followed by wider public and private sector events to understand how data standards and common digital components could provide optimal benefits.
Participants included representatives from waste services, customer services, digital services and business change teams to address problems from a range of perspectives.
The project team is led by: the Department for Communities and Local Government’s Local Digital programme; the five local authorities; LocalGov Digital’s Localo project; digital transformation consultant Sarah Prag (the project's service design consultant); technical director and co-founder of Folklabs Paul Mackay (the project's technical lead); and LocalGov Digital member and Guildford Borough Council lead developer Ben Cheetham (the project's lead local authority advisor).
The waste service standards will be implemented at partner local authorities in September and should be operational by December.
A project page with access to further information, all project resources, the timeline and ways to get in touch can be found here.
Find out more about how the project got to the current stage and what is planned for the next phase.