In the first round of Local Digital funding (Sept 2018 – May 2019), we funded 16 collaborative projects that aspired to solve shared local service problems in a common way, in keeping with the principles of the Local Digital Declaration.
Criteria for funding bids
Funding bids needed to meet the following criteria to reflect the principles of the Declaration:
- demonstrate input from at least two local authorities which are already signatories of the Local Digital Declaration
- demonstrate the benefit to local public services, helping local authorities to make savings and deliver better outcomes for people in their communities
- be scalable by design to meet the needs of many organisations
- aim to deliver products that help others use or build on their work. These could include standardised user research findings, service design patterns, benefits cases, code repositories, etc.
- commit to making all tools and outputs from the project completely open and freely available for any organisation to reuse
Types of projects we funded
The first round of the funding invited applicants to bid to develop one of two types of project; discovery or alpha. Funding for later phases of work (beta, live) are anticipated to come in the next round of funding in 2019.
Discovery projects identify a common problem that applicants believe to be shared by many local authorities. The Discovery should aim to understand the problem, its burden on people and its cost to taxpayers. At the end of a Discovery, applicants should demonstrate that they have gained a deep understanding of the problem and its wider context, and have proposals for how the problem could be solved.
We offered up to £80,000 for applicants who want to carry out a Discovery project and committed to delivering the following outputs:
- a business case or benefits case that explains the cost of the problem and the potential for savings – both to the councils involved and to the nation
- a user research report, justifying the project’s conclusions
- a conclusion proposing what product(s) or service(s) could be developed in an ‘Alpha’ project to solve the problem(s) identified in the Discovery. This may include a first draft of a ‘to be user journey map’. If the problem turned out to be different or more complex than imagined, the conclusion would need to outline the need for more work in a new Discovery, or a recommendation that the work will not continue.
Alpha projects aim to build and test something for which we are sure there is a genuine need. At the end of an Alpha, applicants will be able to share user-tested demos that prove they’ve designed a great solution to a common problem. This will form the basis for an application for further implementation funding.
We considered two types of Alpha projects for funding:
- Creating a shareable pattern for an existing solution that has already solved a local service problem very effectively and in line with Local Digital Declaration principles in one local service area. The focus of these projects will be to test the assumptions and designs of an existing solution with other potential users, iterate the solution accordingly, and develop a toolkit that makes it simple for others to adopt it.
- Projects that have already produced the Discovery outputs listed above and successfully make the case for progressing to a project to Alpha stage.
We offered up to £100,000 for applicants who want to carry out an Alpha project and committed to delivering the following outputs:
- A business case or benefits case that explains the cost of the problem and the potential savings that the solution you’ve designed could realise – both to the councils involved and to the nation if rolled out nationally
- A user research report, justifying why the product is designed the way it is
- An accessible product that shows others how to implement your solution. It could be a user experience demo or design pattern (see Verify Local examples), a data model (see Waste standard example), or a set of instructions.
- A conclusion proposing what product or service you should develop in a ‘Beta’ project. This may include a user tested prototype. If the problem turned out to be different or more complex than anticipated, the conclusion should outline the need for more work in a new Discovery or Alpha project, or a recommendation that this work will not continue.