Legacy data systems, siloed working, legacy processes. For local councils and social housing providers, all too often these issues result in complicated services and poor customer experience. Southwark Council, alongside the City of Lincoln Council, Gravesham Council and Lewisham Homes have been trying to do something about it.
Together, they applied to MHCLG’s Digital Fund for a discovery project that would help them understand what makes a great user centred repairs experience. The report estimates that Southwark Council alone could make savings of over £5million over ten years by introducing an online repairs service supported by a common service pattern and the HACT UK Housing Data Standard.
The report – which is available free to local councils and housing associations – sets out a template for an online repairs service. The UK Housing Data Standard supports the service by providing data schema for requesting and scheduling a repair, specifying the minimum data that should move within those processes. It also provides a consistent definition and logical mode for how the data relates to other business definitions.
A reusable service pattern works like the HACT UK Housing Data Standard in that it helps organisations that are looking to improve a service or process to shortcut some of the design, research and data mapping required for this type of project. The report has taken best practice, tested insights and then compiled them into documentation which is now available as a guide for organisations devising similar projects.
Online repairs is a great example of a service that many public sector organisations are trying to deliver and where considerable pain points exist for users. The report found, for example, that 40% of queries are residents chasing up the status of repairs that have already been logged. This is an area that’s an obvious quick win for organisations wanting to reduce the resource needed to respond to queries, while vastly improving the customer experience.
The three local authorities have now been funded to continue with this work, building API connectors for Southwark’s existing systems focusing on a repairs journey for leaks. Ongoing testing of the UK Housing Data Standard will determine how it can support the building of these APIs and in structuring the data in the overall process.
HACT and OSCRE are working with Southwark Council and partners as the work progresses, providing support and collecting feedback to ensure that the UK Housing Data Standards respond to the needs of its users.
The project is due to report back in February 2020: in the meantime, you can find updates about how the plumbing is being fixed on the Southwark Council IT blog and the Local Digital Slack channel.