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 assessing the risk, plan and exercise for emergencies, ensuring business continuity and warning and informing the public during an emergency.
Local authorities across the country have adopted different approaches to address their requirements, which results in an increased risk to human life and business continuity due to inconsistent manual processes being adopted resulting in poor communication. That will affect the authorities’ speed of response, lead to a disjointed approach that can cause unintentional obstruction, 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 work in collaboration with other agencies whilst also utilising our current suite of applications, which represent those used by a majority of other local authorities to better manage the emergency incident.
So we wish to initiate a project with the support of other local authorities that establishes a proof of concept through conducting research to establish standard process of service delivery which utilises emerging technology to improve performance whilst addressing our requirements as a local authority.
- Establish a working group made up of Essex Emergency Planning Officers and local authorities IT expertise.
Through reaching out to Essex authorities via the Essex Online Partnership and utilising the contacts across Essex held by our own Emergency Planning officers we will request their commitment to support the project. Through engaging in workshops and other exercises we will capture their feedback to shape a preferred solution.
- Seek approval from partners on a standard process and essential requirements
Draft a process with our own Emergency Planning officers and present this to our partners for comment. Through engagement seek approval on a standard process that addresses the role of local authority during an emergency .
- Define our success criteria
Initial research was used to identify the requirements to achieve targeted outcomes for the proposed project. The draft will be used to initiate discussions in planned workshops to finalise our requirements .
- Procure consultancy to establish a proof of concept
We plan to procure specific expertise in relation to the outcomes of planned workshops, to further develop a business case and explore identified opportunities to utilise emerging technology. Consultancy will provide expertise and an independent view point on identifying a preferred solution to be recommended as a result of the project.
- Finalise the business case for publication (March 2019)
A deliverable of the proposed project is a comprehensive business case that takes in consideration all the research conducted to create a proposed solution supported by a cost appraisal and details of any identified benefits. It will detail recommendations based on a preferred solution that will ensure the delivery of targeted outcomes, if applicable. The business case and it appendices may then be used to shape a future bid for further funding to initiate an ‘alpha’ project to develop a working version of the identified preferred solution.
The targeted outcome of the project is to establish a proof of concept to initiate development of an Alpha product. The project will identify and document a design of an application that will deliver the following outcomes;
- An application that creates a single record of an incident accessible by all local authorities to enable collaborative working. As the application will be accessed via the web and hosted in the cloud.
- Through implementation of the identified preferred solution the end product will provide a reduction of system costs, demonstrating value for money. Achieved through designing a product that requires a single product license per user.
- Create process efficiency through sharing with partners to form. standard processes that will be recognised as best practice.
- An open source application design, that empowers users to customise the application to their localised requirements.
- Establish a solution to integrate with Government applications such as Resilience Direct and .GOV Notify.
- An inclusive product that will be developed as modules that can be utilised on any operating system to enable collaborative working and to ensure the products design is scalable.
- In designing the product it is an aim to utilise current and emerging technology to mitigate the risk to authorities’ reputation through not fulfilling their statutory duties and reduce the risk of loss of life.
- Design a digital solutions that better address the needs of vulnerable citizens during an emergency situation.
- Design an application fit for purpose that provides the end user with a seamless end to end efficient modern application that includes prioritised, identified functionality.
- Identify and design a solution that results in a UI that is intuitive, simplicity in design and content, establishing consistency and complacency. An application that will require minimum training for the end user.
Through utilising a network of Emergency Planning officers across Essex and the established Essex Online Partnership we will have the expertise to call upon to identify possible solutions and to create more efficient working practices. As part of the initial process of identifying this opportunity we have engaged with representatives from Colchester and Chelmsford who have committed their support for the proposed project.
Following our initial expression of interest we reached out to Thanet District Council and captured their requirements which were used to shape the ambition and the targeted outcomes of the project. Unfortunately they have not been in touch since. We plan to continue to engage with Thanet if we were to secure funding to kick start the project. Through further engagement with our partners a working group will be formed who will be tasked with the delivery. We will publish reports on progress using the channels available to those signed up to the digital declaration.
Business Case – a comprehensive business case will be produced as a result of this project that will take in consideration all the research conducted, the feedback of our collaborative working group and the conclusions of consultants to recommend a preferred solution that is fit for purpose. A cost appraisal will be included as well as a benefits plan. Detailed next steps and recommendations based on the preferred design, that will ensure the delivery of targeted outcomes will be provided. This is subject to the outcome of research and engagement, as there is the possibility solution cannot be found. A Business Analyst will be assigned to project who will be responsible for the delivery of the business case.
Project Management- (not an exclusive list)
- Delivery plan – based on delivering against an approved prioritised requirement list a plan will be produced to ensure on time project delivery, supported by detailed time box plans.
- Lesson Learnt- any best practice identified through the process of working in collaboration will be shared as a deliverable of the proposed project.
User research report- there will be a requirement to do market research to establish and costs to evidence value for money. Research will be done to establish current best practice which will be used to shape process design. Through facilitating workshops with key stakeholders feedback and analysis will be collected to further progress the development of a business case. All research and analysis will be shared with the Essex Online Partnership and the signees of the digital declaration.
TO BE process map – utilising research and engagement the project will deliver a process map that is seen to illustrate current best practice creating a standard for service delivery for local authorities. Alongside the map there will be a documented Solution Architecture Definition.
User profiles –
Identified users are Emergency Planning officers, Emergency Duty officers, members of the senior management team and officers within a council, Emergency services, members of the volunteer sector and citizens. A principle of the design is create modules for essential features of the application, for each module we will look to engage with the identified users to ensure the final design meets their requirements. This may result in the creation of a mock-up of specific products for users to test as part of our research.
User’s practical experiences and expertise will be used to capture scenarios to enable us to test the products design to ensure a proposed solution is fit for purpose.
A working group made up of users, from a number of authorities will be asked to attend workshops. There is an aim to facilitate a minimum of 3 workshops in which officers will be asked to provide feedback on a developing To Be process design that promotes identified best practice and identified digital solutions to be consider. The group will be presented with the outcomes of research reports to influence decision making during the process of finalising the design. In finalising the design we would have achieved the targeted outcomes whilst establishing a proof of concept.
We will also look to engage with IT experts to conduct further research on proposed solutions to validate the outcomes of the business case.
We would like your help with the process of contacting officers responsible for Government products such as Resilience Direct and Notify. We will use any contact details you would be able to provide us to establish a solution which utilises these products identified benefits, to achieve our targeted outcomes.
We would also like support in using the communication channels available to share progress and seek further feedback to ensure we get the opportunity to engage with other authorities not currently supporting the delivery of the proposed project.
N/A. Basildon Council has not sought to secure any funding in relation to this proposed project in the past. The proposed project was identified as a result of the opportunity of the Local Digital fund, on reviewing the ambition and criteria of the funding process.