Basildon Borough Council

Outcome of Expression of Interest: Invited to apply

Emergency Planning and Business Continuity Application – Discovery phase

As per the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 local authorities are a category 1 responders and have a key role in supporting emergency services and are equally responsible for the following requirements;

  • Assessing the risk, plan and exercise for emergencies
  • Business continuity management, including advice for local businesses
  • Warning and informing the public

Our requirement is to ensure co-operation and information sharing with Emergency and Non-emergency services (category 2 responders). There is also a requirement to ensure business continuity to continue to delivery our statutory services during an emergency as a local authority.

Local authorities across the country have adopted different approaches to address their requirements, which results in a risk to human life and service delivery due to manual processes being adopted which could affect the authorities’ speed of response while also increasing the cost of service delivery.

Through completing initial research, software currently on the market that delivers all our essential requirements is an expensive option and comes with limited opportunities to integrate with our current suite of applications, which represent those used by a majority of other local authorities.

So we wish to initiate a project with the support of other local authorities (Colchester Borough Council and Chelmsford City Council) that establishes a proof of concept to develop an application that delivers identified required functionality and meets our ambitions (targeted outcomes).

Our acceptance criteria identified at this stage is as follows;

Functional;

  • Can capture incidents in line with our statuary requirement in terms of local Council’s role in emergency planning and business continuity, providing a full auditable record.
  • Application can record incidents based on the M/ETHANE model.
  • Provides the user with functionality to create a Situation Reports on location (SitRep).
  • Captures two way messages within the incidents record.
  • Provides a search facility for the end user to quickly access relevant information.
  • Maps the user’s location.
  • Document storage.
  • Plots resources available and information about those resources on a map
  • User can access the application on mobile device.
  • User can view all the content in the application, with live synchronized updates being available on a mobile device.
  • Can create and assign tasks for officers on the application all viewable via a dashboard.
  • Officers can receive tasks and complete tasks on location.
  • The application is available off-line and on securing a connection tasks will automatically be updated.
  • Captures subscriber’s information.
  • Users can create activates such as reminders.
  • Application is able to integrate with other applications to provide an end to end service provision.
  • The application is able to automatically send bulk SMS / email messages to multiple subscribers.
  • Can capture photographs to be shared with relevant officers.
  • Contact management.
  • Available via a cloud-based solution
  • Provides workflow functionality on essential activities such as setting up a rest centre.
  • Enables administrators to set relevant levels of access according to specific roles.
  • Includes access to a training environment to facilitate training officers according to Central Governments Emergency Response Training (CGERT) to ensure good practices.

Non-Functional; accessibility:

  • Application is available 365 days of the year, 24/7
  • Information provided via the application should meet web content accessibility guidelines 2.1

Non-functional: usability:

  • The final product should be easy to use, with minimal steps and low levels of technical support required for users to complete their role in the service delivery.

Non-functional: security:

  • Unauthorised persons are prevented from viewing the application.
  • Specific users are prevented from accessing records not relevant to their role in service delivery
  • System is iso 27001 compliant

Our ambition;

  • Is to establish a proof of concept to initiate development of an Alpha product.
    • Application creates a single record of an incident accessible by all effected local authorities to enable collaborative working.
    • Deploy an application built by a local authority for a local authority that is available to all local authorities.
    • Through implementation the end product provides a reduction of system costs
    • Creates process efficiency.
    • Create an open source application that at a minimum empowers users to customise the application to their requirements to deal with local differences in service delivery.
    • Integrate with Government applications such as Resilience Direct and .GOV Notify.
    • Create a product that integrates with other business applications used by Local Authorities to request the services of departments within the authority to assist during an emergency, using the process and the functionality already in place, “fix our plumbing”.
    • Mitigates the risk to authorities reputation through not fulfilling their statutory duties and reduces the risk of loss of life.
    • Creates a product that utilises emerging technology developed through the delivery of a smart city.
    • Address the needs of vulnerable citizens during an emergency situation.
    • Provides the end user with a functional, seamless end to end efficient modern application.
  • Alpha phase;

Initial thoughts on a possible solution that would shape the projects outcome, has established a possible application that would be fit for purpose, Microsoft Dynamics 365 (MD365), hosted in the cloud. The benefits of this application is its inbuilt features as a leading business application which now forms part of the 365 suite of Microsoft products. There are also a number of Councils currently using the application and have aspirations to create an enterprise application on the platform. This provides opportunities for integration. Through our involvement with the Essex Online Partnership, we have formed a MD365 working group who are in the process of identifying opportunities to work in collaboration, developing products in partnership. Two of its members to date have expressed an interest in working on this project.

It is believed that on deploying a solution via MD365, there would only be a cost of a license per user (circa £72 pound per year based on public services discount). Due to the importance of the product we would look to negotiate a further reduction for authorities not currently subscribed to the platform. An estimated average of 10 users per authority results in an annual cost of £720per authority. Which could easily become cost neutral through re-engineering processes to make them more efficient and using the application to manage business continuity within the organisation.

If required during this phase we would seek advice from Microsoft partners, but at this stage it is believed through sharing our knowledge of the application, our practical experience with our partners we could in theory define the product documenting a proof of concept, for the next phase (Alpha) to be initiated following completion.

Other products are to be consider through accessing their capability to deliver against our ambitions (our targeted outcomes). The assessment is part of the proposed discovery phase.

The estimated cost of this project, the discovery phase is £8,000, with any shortfall to be picked up by the lead authority. This estimate includes a contingency to seek consultancy from a Microsoft partner.

So if successful in regards establishing an efficient and effective solution we then plan to request additional funding to build a product for all the members of the group to use initially (as a MD365 licence would be required and we already have licences).

In conclusion our research will be used to meet with our identified partners to establish a proof of concept, on securing the necessary funding. On documenting the solution we will look to secure further funding to develop Alpha version of the product for deployment with those authorities working in collaboration with Basildon Council on the project. Currently all identified partners have the required licences to deploy the application if MD365 was the preferred option.

Due to our identified partners having in house developers /expertise the cost of development is significantly reduced.

The product will be made available to other authorities on the platform such as Essex County Council and emergency Essex Fire services as well as all the other districts in the County through promotion via the Essex Online Partnership which is in place and attended by all the districts across Essex. On adopting the product at a county level our ambition would be to then look to promote the application at a national level.

This is a digital experiment that aims to create a new tool working in collaboration that is scalable, while representing value for money.

  • Digital leadership training (for council leaders, service managers or senior executives)
  • Introduction to delivery management
  • Introduction to product management
  • Introduction to digital business analysis

Other training requests

There is an interest of being provided with further information on all training list provided within our organisation, but it is felt that through working in partnership with other local authorities we have the required expertise to deliver the proposed project. We have access to officers who are qualified practitioners of Agile project methodology, research / business analysts etc. As per our proposal we may require consultancy in the form specific IT expertise following an assessment of available platforms against our targeted outcomes.

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