The recent Channel Shift in the Public Sector conference focused on how public sector organisations are harnessing the power of digital services to drive efficiencies and savings.
Every year, local government are mandated to deliver over 100 different services even though funding is still being cut to meet central government targets. In addition, citizen expectations are higher than ever before. They want to be able to engage with councils on their terms, wherever they happen to be and on whatever device they are using 24/7 365 days of the year.
Councils are working hard to address these challenges and have looked towards using technology and digital tools in more innovative ways to drive transformation. Many councils have identified citizen self-service as a way to reduce costs and increase efficiency to meet customer expectations. However, it’s not just about cost savings but providing the same level of service, for more people with less resource.
One of the topics discussed at the conference, highlighted how councils have reduced the processing costs of managing customer contact in the ‘front office’, by designing out avoidable manual contact when implementing and utilising digital services. Councils commented that they had seen a rise in customer satisfaction and an increase in online transactions whilst face to face contact and calls had decreased. However, it’s also about recognising where digital services can add value and where they can’t.
For example, by offering a digital service to report potholes - whilst this may have reduced face to face or phone contact, the number of potholes reported increased which impacted the budget required to fill the holes.
Making services accessible in one place has been highly successful for Harrow Council since the introduction of their MyHarrow Account. Harrow delivers online digital services that work both for the customer and for the council which have delivered real savings and increased customer satisfaction as more transactions are being resolved at first point of contact.
Harrow actively encourages online transactional customer contact and includes a portal where selected local businesses can offer discounts to its citizens.
iApply by Idox fits perfectly into this trend for digital self-service by offering local authorities the opportunity to benefit from an out of the box digital solution that makes submitting the most popular transactions (Planning, Building and License applications) simple for customers and cost effective for the authority. iApply offers significant efficiencies gained from direct synchronisation with back office systems reducing and even removing the need for manual intervention.
For more information about iApply, visit: digital self-service.
For six consecutive years, Melbourne has been ranked the 'most liveable city' by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The study assessed over 30 indicators, across five broad categories: stability; healthcare; culture and environment; education; and infrastructure.
In our latest article, Idox’s Steven McGinty looks at the factors that have helped Melbourne achieve “most liveable city” status – including the role of smart city initiatives such as the use of data and digital technologies to meet the changing needs of its residents.
In addition to managing the regional road network, Oxfordshire County Council’s management team is responsible for managing all infrastructure contracts and ensuring real-time passenger information is available for the 100 bus routes across the county’s network.
Idox’s traffic management solution from Cloud Amber provides information on the 270 bus stops across the county, collating data to a single source and keeping passengers informed of any delays. Idox’s Icarus solution broadcasts vehicle and traffic information in real time. In conjunction with Voyager, another Idox solution, this enables updates to be available to busy passengers at the bus stops and bus interchanges.
Click here to read more about Idox’s digital traffic management solutions.
Today, the idea of researcher mobility is highly valued and more important for our world than ever before. In the context of Brexit and a changing international research landscape, RESEARCHconnect’s Jack Hood explores why this is the case, uncovering the factors facilitating and hampering mobility and the new concepts of mobility being mooted.
Future City Glasgow has had many successes since it was launched three years ago. The projects proposed by Glasgow City Council were designed to explore innovative ways to use technology and data to make the city ‘safer, smarter and more sustainable’.
Idox fits perfectly into this trend to deliver digital services by offering a broad range of digital solutions to support public and private sector organisations.
In this article, Idox’s Steven McGinty describes how the Future City Glasgow initiative has been exploring innovative technology and data applications to make the city safer, smarter and more sustainable.
Full article: Future City Glasgow: successes, challenges and legacy
The Knowledge Exchange is the information and intelligence arm of Idox, supporting policymakers and practitioners across the UK. One of its key products is Scottish Planning & Environmental Law (SPEL). Published bi-monthly, the journal is one of the leading information sources on land use planning and environmental legislation. In this article, Morwen Johnson considers recent significant court cases affecting planning in Scotland.
Idox Elections goes from strength-to-strength. With over 23 years' experience delivering end-to-end elections solutions, hear what our clients, Glasgow City Council have to say about the expertise, knowledge and software that we bring to the table.
Offering professional and reputable consultancy, our team of experts have combined their wealth of experience across election software development, training and print, to offer practical solutions that best suit our customers' electoral needs.
Discover for yourself why Idox Elections is recognised as a trusted partner and hear from Glasgow City Council how we have helped them deliver elections and referenda effectively.
For more information about Idox Elections and their services, visit: Democratic Services.Tweet
This autumn, Idox Grants hosted the latest one-day training events in the UK and Netherlands, focused on funding best practice. The masterclasses – part of Idox Grants’ campaigns on European funding and funding awareness – have already led to positive results, generating notable grant wins for clients.
Participants of both events awarded high marks for the quality of the content and practical advice. In the Netherlands, EU funding was the focus of the day at NEMO Science Center Amsterdam on 4 October. The event generated great interest from local government in the area. A series of presentations shared insight from successful projects, and external speakers and consultants of Vindsubsidies passed on their knowledge and expertise to a receptive audience.
GRANTfinder’s Masterclass in Funding on 19 October at White Hart Lane, home of London’s Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, featured an impressive range of speakers including the Big Lottery Fund and funding expert Sue Scott. Sessions on digital engagement strategy (designed to help organisations raise awareness of their work with potential donors and funding bodies), practical bid writing methodologies, and advice from a grant recipient and grant giver’s perspective delivered valuable insight. Delegate Janey Thompson, Third Sector Development Officer at Enfield Council, commented: ‘The programme for the day was very well planned and all the speakers were very captivating and inspiring’. 100% of respondents to the post-event survey reported that they had achieved their objectives for attending, with particular value gained from improved awareness of funding opportunities, grant application best practice, and the funding strategy of major funding providers.
The NEMO event was part of the ongoing Idox Grants campaign on European funding, which has already led to an impressive client win. Vencer, creator of unique supercars, has been awarded a substantial grant from the European Regional Development Fund for an innovative project to develop a technique for a modular chassis. Eurostars disposal for TMSI, a medical organisation in the Netherlands, has also reported funding success in its collaboration with a university and a French partner to develop a method to prevent preterm birth.
More masterclasses to come
Ebbsfleet Development Corporation (EDC), who was set up by Government to speed up delivery of up to 15,000 homes and create a 21st century Garden City in north Kent, has successfully gone live with Idox’s cloud based hosting service.
Provided over a period of 3 years, under the agreement, Idox is responsible for maintaining and updating all systems relating to a range of business functions including Planning and Development Management and ensuring these meet all legislative requirements.
The system also provides online access to related records and documents via Idox’s citizen engagement portal thereby increasing convenience for service users and reducing demand on EDC as a service provider.
The hosted managed services are operated from Idox’s data centre where data is replicated every 15 minutes, backed-up and stored offsite. Adhering to ISO 27001 information security standards, the centre is resilient to emergency situations, such as power outages.
Adopting a managed cloud service from Idox has enabled EDC to benefit from immediate efficiency savings thanks to reduced server and data storage needs. In the future, services can be scaled with ease and with no need for capital equipment investment on the part of EDC.
Christmas season is coming, which often means exchanging gifts. It’s that last bit that could be confusing for employees: which presents or invitations could they accept? Which ones are too valuable? And what gesture is still appropriate?
Idox Compliance is supporting businesses and local authorities in answering these questions with a brief online training course covering Gifts and Hospitality. The training is designed to raise employee awareness that there are rules that need to be followed. It can be undertaken not only during the Christmas season but also as a regular seasonal refresher.
Full article: Gifts and Hospitality for the Christmas season
Please get in touch if you’d like to learn more on Gifts and Hospitality.
Statistics show that the UK is today some 24% less active than in 1961. There are numerous factors as to why there has been such a substantial decline including an increase in desk-based occupations and the influence of technology, encouraging sedentary lifestyles.
Now that the dust has settled on the Rio Olympics, the question lingers: how can we utilise the good feeling from such high-profile sporting events to help inspire the nation into being more active? And how can society make best use of funding to support healthy living initiatives?
The latest GRANTfinder whitepaper explores:
- the long-term strategy to improve the health of the nation through physical activity;
- the measures Government and public sport and health organisations are taking; and
- how major sporting event legacies can be extended beyond the gold-medallists of the future.
Download GRANTfinder's latest whitepaper: The Olympic Legacy and improving the nation’s health
In the past year, local authorities have reported a 14% increase from, the previous year, in security breaches to the ICO. The figures show that 64% of all reported breaches involved accidentally disclosing data. In our latest blog, Idox’s Steven McGinty looks at growing concerns about data protection breaches in local government.
Last month, the Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA) claimed that unprecedented challenges had pushed the system ‘closer to collapse than ever before’.
Although the 2016 elections and the EU Referendum were successfully delivered, the AEA argued that the framework for electoral administration was becoming increasingly unfit for purpose. Their report – Pushed to the absolute limit: 2016 – the electoral year never to forget – set out 91 recommendations for reform to prevent adverse effects on the UK’s democratic systems.
The latest whitepaper from Idox Elections looks at some of the challenges facing the UK’s electoral administrators and describes the recommendations for improving the delivery of democratic polls.
Vindsubsidies has been nominated for the 2016 FD Gazelle Awards. According to Het Financieele Dagblad (FD), owner of the awards and leading Dutch financial newspaper, Vindsubsidies is one of the fastest growing companies in the Netherlands.
The FD is a national business authority which presents annual awards to the fastest growing companies in the Netherlands. This involves reviewing an organisation’s financial position as well as the revenue growth which must demonstrate a growth of at least 20% over the past three years.
Vindsubsidies are delighted to be considered for this prestigious award having achieved a growth of circa 60%.
The awards ceremony will take place on the 15th of November.
New service to save time and money for all
Following a commercial tender, Idox were selected by the Scottish Government to provide the connector facility for Scotland’s eBuilding Standards service. This will transfer data into Scottish Local authorities back office systems and contributes to the modern public services envisaged in the Scottish Government’s digital strategy.
Following the successful launch of the new eBuilding Standards service on 24 August, Idox are delighted to announce that since going live, the service has processed over 2100 applications and that 1445 new accounts have been set-up. Idox developed the connector on a new digital platform. This service allows the authority to receive applications for building warrants, completion certificates and other related forms on both individual home improvement projects and for larger commercial developments more quickly and easily.
The eBuilding Standards service enables:
- The electronic submission to local authorities of building warrant applications and completion certificates
- Electronic payment of associated fees directly to the local authority
- Submission of digital copies of supporting documentation, eliminating the need to print and post
Operations Director Paul Beaney, commented “Idox is proud to have worked alongside both central and local Scottish Government to deliver the connector for this exciting new service which hasn’t just simplified the submission process but changed the way applicants and councils interact”.
The eBuilding Stanards service streamlines the application process and provides significant user benefits as it is simple to use, saves applicants time and money and improves the efficiency of the process enabling councils to start considering applications sooner. From the initial uptake it appears that over 50% of Building Standards applications across Scotland will now be submitted online.
EPCs and Owner Operators realise reduced errors, improved margins and lower risks on complex engineering projects with the help of GoCapture, a new solution from Idox.
GoCapture, an Idox solution, launches today, offering a new tool to EPCs and Owner Operators to optimise site inspection, defect management, mechanical completion and handover phases of complex engineering projects. The solution minimises the cost of incidents, reduces errors, improves margins and mitigates risks by standardising and automating processes.
Companies are looking to streamline the recording, turnaround and management of defects in an effort to reduce schedule and budget overruns. GoCapture is the ideal solution for companies to adopt, as costs come under increased scrutiny and more projects are being commissioned on a fixed price basis, leading to greater competition and margin pressures.
The Idox Information Service recently organised the annual Scottish Planning and Environmental Law (SPEL) Conference. Widely regarded as the leading annual planning and environmental law event in Scotland, the SPEL Conference attracted highly experienced practitioners and senior figures from a range of backgrounds.
In this article, Idox’s Rebecca Jackson reports on some of the key presentations and discussions from the event.
Open science, researcher mobility, policy and funding reforms and forthcoming research challenges were just some of the subjects covered at the 2016 Vitae Researcher Development International Conference.
Returning to support this year’s event, the RESEARCHconnect team were on hand to discuss the latest research developments and hear from speakers and delegates as to current and prospective issues impacting the sector.
In our latest blog, Emma Wootton reports back on the key research themes and reflections from 2016, and provides a look ahead to what 2017 might have in store for the research community…
A company’s code of conduct is the guideline for responsible and compliant employee behaviour. These basic principles and how they are presented are of crucial importance. A new whitepaper from Idox Compliance describes what organisations should consider when creating their code of conduct. The whitepaper includes a useful checklist, providing step-by-step guidance. In this short Q&A, Jürgen Krisor, Compliance Partner at Idox Compliance, provides some insights.
Q: What should typically be covered by a code of conduct?
A: The overall aim should always be to encourage lawful and compliant behaviour of an organisation’s employees. The details covered in a code of conduct will vary by organisation.
Q: A lot of larger organisations publish their code of conduct on their websites. Does it make sense to just copy one of them for your own company?
A: No, definitely not. As an example, for a medium-sized company with 500 employees it does not make sense copying the code of conduct of a globally operating corporation. The appropriate basis for a code of conduct are always the organisation’s individual principal values on the one hand and its risk profile on the other. Principal values come from the organisation’s unique history, its strategy and goals as well as its size and structure. In addition, a code of conduct should always address all business-related risks that impose a serious compliance threat. Therefore, organisations should conduct a risk analysis in advance.
Q: How long should a code of conduct be?
A: Nobody really likes to read long documents like this. Ideally, a code of conduct should feature between five to eight pages. It should be easy to comprehend, summarise existing guidelines and provide advice for situations that could be subject to interpretation. Business related, practical case studies support understanding and transfer in employees’ everyday work.
Q: Still, it seems pretty difficult to address all eventualities and uncertainties in only one short document?
A: Quite correct, a code of conduct, however well written, can never address all eventualities. Therefore, it is important that the code of conduct always provides information on where employees can get assistance and support, for example contact details of an individual or a department. Also, employees should be given an opportunity to report illegal behaviour (whistle blowing), which should be referred to in the document.
Q: Who is typically involved in developing a code of conduct?
A: Usually, the person responsible for the compliance management will be the project manager. But it is essential to have top management as project sponsor, because without top management support a code of conduct will always fail! The “Tone from the top”, as it is often called, is crucial not only for the code of conduct alone, but also for the success of the compliance programme and the embedding of a culture of integrity as a whole!
Download the free whitepaper: Your own Code of Conduct: Do’s and Don’ts
Built by Bots: AI and the Building Industry
Building Control could soon be dealing with a whole new ball game if technological advances using drones and robotic bulldozers continue at their current rate. Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are already being used to monitor construction projects in the US and Japan from high above. So will the future of Building Control be interacting with robotic workers and monitoring sites through the eyes of AI?
Eyes in the Sky
As part of innovative new technologies being deployed in construction, US start-up business Skycatch is already using drones on some high-profile building projects. Drones can provide useful aerial views of a site, while monitoring progress and spotting any problems that need to be addressed. These could be design changes, or needing to order more construction materials. Everything can be automated and controlled without anyone having to set foot on the site and with digital imagery and cameras, the visual quality of such reports are as good as being present in person.
A Close-up Look
Drones are also being utilised for carrying out building inspections – either for annual check-ups on a building’s condition, or assessing damage caused by age or bad weather. Remedial and renovation work can now be assessed at ground level and a course of action formulated with ease. Information collected by the drone, including dimensions, can also be used to create 3-D maps and models. With limited access to dangerous places such as towers or roofs, what once might have taken hours, with costly scaffolding, lifts and ladders, can now be carried out in a matter of minutes by an experienced controller remotely guiding the aerial camera drone. Companies offering external building inspections via drone are proving particularly useful in areas such as cities, where access isn’t always easy, even at ground level.
Japanese construction machinery company Komatsu is using drones to guide automated bulldozers. Using 3-D mapping techniques and customised, automated machinery, work can be carried out safely with little chance of injury, loss of time to illness or, to an extent, regardless of inclement weather conditions. Komatsu’s Intelligent Machine Technology (iMT) was unveiled in 2013 and allows lower-skilled workers to carry out, through remote operation, a higher-skilled task. Komatsu’s SmartConstruction business combines its driverless, automated earth-moving equipment to drone-guided technology to make a fully-automated construction process. In Japan, robotic working perhaps offers a solution to the problem of an ageing workforce.
Looking into the future, new technologies such as drones may seem like ‘pie in the sky’ in terms of practical use. But Building Control making greater use of drones to monitor construction sites is an exciting prospect. With technologies such as iApply – the UK’s first combined Planning and Building Control portal – improving interaction, it’s only a matter of time before there’s even more demand for digital information sharing across multiple platforms. If fluidity and interconnectivity are key, then site visits and inspections may well soon be carried out by drones and linked back to local authority computer systems many miles away. Drones could be used to monitor ongoing work, map progress and quality, and everything would be recorded and available for viewing and discussion afterwards. If technology can be made usable in this everyday way, then the sky truly is the limit.
For further information on iApply and just some of the major advantages of investing in the service, please visit www.iapply.co.uk