Digital Wales – A Spotlight on Carmarthenshire
Now more than ever, Local government is required to be reactive, agile and quick when delivering services to their residents. With the ever-greater reliance on digital services, digital became a lifeline. The primary and in some instances the only channel for communicating and delivering vital services to residents and businesses. Supporting residents who can self-serve to be able to do so and ensuring that those that are most vulnerable are prioritised through those mediated channels.
At Granicus we have seen significant growth in the use of the platform to support both businesses and individuals through the pandemic.
The Welsh government recently announced its Strategy for Digital Wales, and can be found here – https://gov.wales/digital-wales
Their aims are
- increasing the availability and use of online public services
- providing online services designed around the needs of users
- developing the infrastructure to support moving to online public services
- to use technology more effectively and efficiently across the public sector
The demand for digital services has dramatically increased, as is evident in the statistics above. However, it cannot be forgotten that there are a number of people that cannot access these services digitally, whether through vulnerability or inability. From discussions that I have had with customers, it has been evident that there is a growing divide between those that can and will, and those that cannot.
It is about developing these digital processes to be simple to use and consistent, irrespective of the channel that a resident chooses to utilise. Making it easy for customers if they choose to self-serve to complete a request (the easier you make it and engage customers proactively the more will tend to use this channel if they can), but also easy for staff to manage for those that taking calls through a contact centre, giving more time for those that perhaps cannot transact online.
Spotlight on Wales – Carmarthenshire
Carmarthenshire County Council based in the South West of Wales and home to 188,000 residents have been utilising the govService platform from Granicus for the past 4 Years.
It is clear that the pandemic, and their response to it, have changed areas of service delivery at a scale and pace previously unimaginable. Digital Transformation runs through a number of the themes for the council and has facilitated significant change to the way services have had to be delivered. A number of projects that were identified already within the Authorities Digital Transformation Strategy were fast tracked to assist front line service delivery during the Covid19 pandemic.
Julian Williams, Applications Development Manager for Carmarthenshire Council adds” We found the Granicus platform invaluable in responding to the varied and daily challenges presented over the past year. From developing appointments systems for HWRC Recycling Centres to Libraries ‘Click & Collect’ services, through to quickly providing on-line forms and applications for businesses and residents to apply for various grants and relief provided by Welsh Government. The speed, rapid and agile nature the platform allowed us to respond and recover services by implementing electronic / digital solutions and transformations; credit to Granicus for a platform which we could react quickly to the ever-evolving landscape”
Using the govService platform, transactions can range from simple enquiries, to full end-to-end workflow which involve multiple stages across all internal stakeholders, in addition to external third-party stakeholders (such as contractors or partner organisations). The embedded Integration Manager enables integration at any stage of the request process to multiple back-office systems as well as external integrations to offsite systems. Flexibility is at the heart of the Granicus govService Platform, allowing the service area to be agile and efficient in managing the requests.
Taking on board the aims of the Digital Wales Strategy, with govService you can:
- Improve customer service by providing customers with a seamless experience across contact points (online, via phone, and in-person) and access to services 24/7
- Save staff time and cut costs through automated workflows that minimise errors, reduce paper processing, and streamline communications across service areas, teams and departments
- Realise immediate improvements in service, workflows, and scalability through easy integration with legacy technology and data sources
- Reduce complexity and improve security of technology stack by using one product for service delivery and workflow optimisation.
Here is a list of just some of the great things that Carmarthenshire have done through the pandemic to support the needs of the residents, businesses and staff through the pandemic
- The council has operated a redeployment hub run centrally by Human Resources which has matched volunteers, many from closed services. This approach has cut through the historic boundaries of different departments or constraints imposed by rigid job descriptions as Job Evaluation criteria. A Staff Hub Database was developed within the 1st two weeks to add flexibility and effectiveness to the process together with clear Dashboards to present the information to senior managers.
- Land changes enquiries have previously been facilitated through a computer terminal based in a council building available for public access. This service is now available through the Carmarthenshire website, removing the need for physical attendance and travel for service users.
- Access to library services have been transformed through the provision of a “click and collect” style service. Equality of access is delivered through the twin provision of online as well as telephone ordering.
- Public Health Enforcement has benefitted from greater reliance on citizens for the submission on photographic evidence for enforcement, reducing the need for officer travel time. There has also been an exponential increase in the use of the “noise app” to report nuisance issues.
- Development of HWRC’s Appointments System to allow the re-opening of the Recycling Centres/Sites. This online appointment system has ensured that members of the public could be allocated a slot and for the social distancing measures to be adhered to within the various HWRC sites across the Authority.
- Development of an in-house Contact Tracing Database (to assist the Central / Welsh Government Track and Trace Process and CRM System and App).
- An online form and Workflow for ‘Application for Business Hardship Rent Relief’ was developed to allow business to apply for this Welsh Government rent relief.
- An online form and Workflow for ’Free School Meals Direct Payments Requests’ was developed ensuring accurate details and evidence was captured from families in receipt of FSM. This was also integrated with our internal financial management system allowing payments to be made to those families
- Pembrey Country Park – Parking Permits and with 1 and 7 Day Online Passes/Payments (with full integration into the ANPR Car Barrier System). Minimise Cash handling and customers using the physical ‘pay’ machines.