London Borough of Southwark Case History
Digital Transformation

mysouthwark responsive mobile web app

Introduction

The London Borough of Southwark is part of inner London and is connected by several bridges to the City of London. The part of the South Bank within the Borough is the London Bridge Terminus and local attractions include The Shard, Globe Theatre, Borough Market, all of which attract the International Tourist. Dulwich is the home of The Dulwich Picture Gallery and the Elephant and Castle houses the Imperial War Museum.

The Landmarks in the Borough include Tower Bridge, the Millennium Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, Southwark Bridge and London Bridge all connect the City of London to the borough. The skyscraper Shard London Bridge is currently the tallest building in the EU. The Tate Modern art gallery, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, the Imperial War Museum and Borough Market are also within the borough. At one mile (1.6 km) wide, Burgess Park is Southwark's largest green space.


Previous application

The London Borough of Southwark have been using Web Labs software and services for several years for example, its Content management System to power its large corporate Intranet and its Electronic Forms on the web site to enable citizens to connect with legacy systems.

The previous LB Southwark corporate web site was underpinned by an Open Source product that was not responsive and was driven by a 'top task' approach. The methodology was becoming increasingly expensive to maintain and modify when attempting to keep pace with ever changing council and citizen requirements.


Project objectives

The Transformation Team at LB Southwark reviewed its web site and digital transformation goals and decided that a new approach would be needed to meet its long term objectives.

The transformation goal were to include a Citizens Portal that would provide a better and more personalised service to the customer, reduce inefficient and unnecessary administration tasks and encourage customers to move to more economically efficient methods of communication.

In addition the new system needed to provide a platform to provide one view of the Councils Services and Customers by removing the silos of Directorates information and integrating all data and transaction history into one Corporate System so that further efficiencies can be made, services improved and an element of ‘Future Proofing’ could be attained.

This system needed to be easily expanded inline with Directorate and commercial needs with further integrated on-line transactions as part of a long term corporate 'Digital by Default’ Strategy.


Web labs bridge is a buisness transformation platform

Solution

The London Borough of Southwark reviewed the market for software systems and services that would provide a long term platform for its Digital Transformation Program and chose 'The Web Labs Bridge' a Digital Development and Deployment Platform supplied by Web-Labs Ltd.

The first consideration was to develop a new responsive corporate web site, however due to contractual and work commitments this was delayed and a decision was made to develop a Citizens Portal. The Content Management System module within 'The Web Labs Bridge' Transformation Platform was used to underpin the web front end which in turn allowed phased development to take place and priorities to be established. In Phase One It was decided to:

  • Make the Citizens Portal as friendly and easy to use as possible to encourage customers to register - to this end clients were encouraged to sign in with their email and or social media passwords
  • To provide as much personalised and useful information as possible by integrating with GIS, Education and NHS systems to provide 'my nearest' information e.g. Nearest Schools, Hospitals, Dentist, Local Councillor etc.
  • To personalise the experience as much as possible by profiling customer visits and providing information akin to the customers interest.
  • Make the customer experience as efficient as possible:
    • By making the service available 24 x 7.
    • To store information about the customer so they do not have to repeat any actions e.g. information captured when using e-forms online previously can be used to pre-fill new e-forms saving the customer considerable time.
    • To provide a Single Sign On to as many legacy back office systems as possible.
    • By providing customers with immediate feedback to enquiries and reposts as often as possible.

The 'mysouthwark' citizen’s portal was successfully launched with the features planned and was an immediate success with a far greater acceptance and take up by the citizens of Southwark.

Development phases
Phase 1 Phase 2
EForms Responsive design
In My Area Landlords portal
Housing Benefits CRM Integration
Council Tax My Learning Portal
My Library Intelligent targeting of actions for the citizen
Xpress – Register to vote GovDelivery Email subscriptions
Payments  
Consultations  

Future expansion

The Citizens Portal has proven to be a success and the project is meeting all of its preliminary goals. Some of the more immediate transactions and improvements to be brought online include:

  • Bulky Waste
  • Intelligent EForms removing the requirement for requesting data supplied in previous e-forms or transactions
  • Bring in data from legacy systems e.g. Council tax into the Citizens Portal
  • Payment / Booking history
  • Booking doctor’s appointments

In addition to the above initial feasibility testing has been conducted to replace Gandlake functionality utilising ‘The Weblabs Bridge’ components.

baulkky waste collections interface
Bulky waste collections interface

The London Borough of Southwark have in parallel to this project developed a mobile responsive web site (also using the CMS component in The Bridge) This provides the citizen with a seamless operation with the citizens portal and it is likely that as the two projects become further integrated they may become one entity.

The project will continual to expand as more legacy systems are integrated and brought online via the portal and are able to be accessed by the citizen with one single sign on.

This will evolve into the creation of a 'single golden record' for each customer.

The ability to provide a single view of the customer and also of the Councils operations that will lead to further improvements in customer service and council operations.

The acceptance and endorsement of the Citizens Portal by the NHS may lead to other public organisations realizing the benefit of our approach and the potential for providing customers with more meaningful information and services.

As more transactions are completed online and more Directorates systems are available to The Bridge, the more transactions can be flagged and recorded by the system leading to more comprehensive Analytics available to management. This will provide a far more accurate picture of our customers and how their needs are serviced by each Directorate. This information will enable better management and further improvements in performance and service levels.


Benefits to the London Borough of Southwark

  • There has been a marked movement of citizens using their mobile phones and the web to contact the Council leading to a reduction in administration cost
  • The number of individuals registered on the 'MySouthwark' portal is over 170,000
  • The number of Council Tax payments via the system are in excess of 80,000 per year
  • There has been a increase in revenues with over £100,000 collected from Landlords in the first six months
  • There has been a 33% increase in Leisure BMX Parks bookings over the weekends

The success of the LB Southwark citizens portal my.southwark.gov.uk has led to an approach by the NHS (Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group) to incorporate their online services into the MySouthwark portal so that citizens besides locating NHS services and accessing health advice will be able to register with a GP, book and manage their appointments via the local government portal.

At Southwark much of the Directorate Department thinking and planning has been replaced with an Enterprise Solution approach which will use The Bridge to utilize re-usable code, shared administration resulting in a dramatic reduction of task replication and the provision of the Big Picture of Council Operations.


Summary

Objectives Achieved

The Borough is delighted that most of the objectives have been achieved namely:

  • There has been a marked channel shift to mobile phone and the web as the main preferences for residents to communicate with the Council
  • There has been a reduction of unnecessary Administration task and cost
  • There has been a increase in revenues due to easy to use online booking services being available to the public 24x7
  • Single Sign On has been achieved into several back office Directorate Systems

Lessons Learned

The uptake potential for integrating more of the Councils Directorate services on line through one cohesive citizen’s portals has been generally slower than anticipated. The delay has mainly been due to there being individual competitive service offerings available to each separate Directorate. It is therefore essential that a Corporate Body (Digital Transformation Board) create and enforce an Enterprise Digital Policy to ensure the Council has a cohesive long term plan to implement one Citizens Portal as a major part of their Digital by Default Strategy.

That given, with the right software, supplier and management team in place a Citizens Portal can be delivered on an economically viable phased roll out whilst ensuring that the Citizens Portal is intuitive and beneficial to the citizens.

Southwark LB are proving that it is not only possible to build a portal that improves customer service but also that one can lower cost and increase Councils revenues without impinging on an existing marketing budgets.

The Bridge is a unique development tool that has allowed LB Southwark to accelerate Digital By Default Initiatives in a structured and economically viable progression. The Bridge enables non IT personnel to perform and manage cross Directorate tasks and functions without compromising either the integrity or security of the DirectoratesDave Dixon, Service Improvement Manager LB Southwark

The LB Southwark citizens portal has been widely accepted by the population and management alike, in addition it has met acclaim from bodies i.e. SOCiTM who commented recently 'In our evaluation of Digital Transformation projects in Local Government the LB of Southwark's citizens portal deserves recognition not only for technical merit but also for its wide acceptance by the population of Southwark'

The success of the project has been brought about by the commitment of the LB Southwark management and project team but also by our choice of supplier Web-Labs their software and services have been excellent always responding positively to our request and coupled with their Agile working and competitive pricing the project has been delivered on time and budget.
Sharon Egin - Project Manager LB Southwark

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