Cumbria Council’s Award-winning Team
Effectively using digital solutions, using low-code, to deliver a remarkable pandemic response.
When Cumbria Council decided to accelerate digital transformation in 2019 to meet customer expectations, low-code technology provided the solution to make huge financial and resource savings. When the pandemic hit in 2020, several projects were reprioritised to monitor support requirements and match them with suitable available services.
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Along with optimising processes, this meant developing new solutions that would meet their needs for a test and trace system — while managing personal data, security and avoiding standalone paper-based processes and spreadsheets..
With limited budget and a small team of four, their innovative approach to change meant they could motivate other departments to deliver 16 new solutions in 12 months. Each one made huge financial and resource savings.
COVID community support
Several projects leap-frogged the task list when the pandemic hit in 2020. The first, the Supporting Vulnerable People Application, was a system to monitor support required and match that with suitable support services, including foodbanks, charities, pharmacies and delivery services.
The second was their Test and Trace integrated end-to-end system. In the absence of a national scheme, they started piloting local contact tracing. This ended up as juggling multiple spreadsheets, involving sharing complex personal data across organisations. It was open to human error and had security concerns. The Digital Team set out to build a system which was easy to use, training light, with accessible data in a clear consistent format. It was to be used and maintained by NHS, Council and Public Health stakeholders.
Building on these successes they needed to build solutions that would streamline highways fault reporting for improved location accuracy (and to optimise resources), digitise waste management, eliminate fraud in waste permit applications, efficiently match care needs with available resources, and ensure blue badge applications are easy to order.
Change typically makes teams uncomfortable. So, first, the Digital Team helps departments grow their ambition. Armed with their vision, teams are able to remove standalone, paper-based processes and actively take part in a multidisciplinary, inclusive agile approach to change. The cutting-edge innovations that they developed are exceptional.
“Lift and shift” was not an option. Total service redesign meant starting with probing questions and working past objections with a show and tell approach, making use of early successes to show just what could be achieved.
Not only are the Digital Team respected in their specialism, but they are now the go-to team in solving problems across services.
— Simon Higgins, Assistant Director Customer and Community Services, Cumbria County Council
The team had the UK’s first ever local Test-and-Trace system up and running before the national government system rollout. In only 10-days build time with Liberty Create, the solution went live with no additional software costs. The multi-agency effort attracted national media attention, saving 99.5% time in data checks with a 96% contact success rate, and was shared with peers on AppShare. Cumbria Council’s success resulted in their team winning Netcall’s 2020 App of the Year award.
The move to using low-code in Liberty Create has given the digital team the ability to reimagine the rules. Innovation has become a central theme in every job description and continuous improvement is now part of the team’s DNA.
And by redesigning services by working closely with departmental colleagues, word has spread and teams are being brought together as ‘shiny new services’ are rolled out.
Technology and culture change
Liberty Create is an enabler. Very short feedback loops speed up the development process. Fine tuning once launched can be done really quickly because everything is done in-house.
The Digital Team can work closely with service managers to co-design services and then build them in-house without the need for developers, they’re involved in testing and trialling.
The buy-in that this generates is infectious. Each success motivates the “next department” to join and make a difference. And, crucially, each system built using Liberty Create makes resource and financial savings.
Efficiency and cost savings
Highways Management system
The team delivered a Highways Request System to triage, validate and case manage work requests.
Highways enquiries on fault reporting has saved in excess of 20 hours of management time per week, equating to 28 person-weeks per year. Time back that can be spent on higher value tasks.
Care Home commissioning
Addressing how the Service Team place residents in need within Care Homes, the Placing Support system enables individual care homes to update their vacancy information online. The vacancy and capacity data can determine where to place the next person.
Up to date vacancy information – almost real-time
Time saved in placing service users
Automated via online form to the care homes to review needs and accept or decline the user
Case progress can be tracked and reported on in real-time
Skips and Scaffolds
The Liberty Create system incorporates features like photo upload, and has introduced automation into the inspection process.
In four weeks, the team developed and launched a full end-to-end system. It included a fraud checker with an integrated number plate checker resulting in an 83% reduction of admin time in chasing and eliminating fraud. Now this is needed for less than 5% of applications.
This system took fourteen weeks to fully develop and launch. It integrates with the central badge record and gov.uk/pay and allows for same day processing, when applications are correct. It has achieved a zero-day backlog, which is an industry leading response time, and previously there was a six-week backlog when the applications were heavily paper based.
This represents a 75% overall time-saving for blue badge customers.
We want to provide digital services that are so good that people choose to use them, not to entirely replace telephony, but to offer a user-friendly system that is more cost-effective for the council.
VIPER (Vulnerable Indicators for Properties in Emergency Response), is a simple yet effective system to help emergency responders across multiple organisations access pertinent information to reach the most vulnerable people in times of crisis.
The vision from the Local Resilience Forum was to create a data rich solution which would enable the identification of vulnerable people easily and quickly in the event of an emergency, using multiple data sources from utility companies, fire, adult social care etc.
The solution, built using Liberty Create low-code, profiles properties, allowing the emergency responders to prioritise which property is the most vulnerable. Responders can then make contact and record the outcome.
Saving time and resources on highways enquiries and fault reporting, the digital team used Liberty Create to incorporate What3Words into its location reporting along with picture uploads. This has saved more than 20 hours management time per week.
Care home commissioning
Helping Cumbria Council’s Service Team, the new Placing Support system lets care homes update vacancy information online. This saves time in placing people needing assistance, with real-time tracking and reporting of all cases.
Efficient waste management
Replacing paper-manual services with a full end-to-end system, the team used Liberty Create to create a solution that could efficiently manage skips and scaffolds, waste permits and blue badges. All while improving customer experience, enabling easy online payments, reducing process times and saving on administration, inspections and printing.
Staff have thanked us for introducing the new systems. I have worked for Cumbria County Council for 10 years and I’ve not heard words before like ‘fantastic’ and ‘it’s bloody marvellous’ to describe a system that we are using.
- 16 solutions delivered by 4 people in year 1
- 2022 Gold Winners for the Customer Focus Award at the iESE Public Sector Transformation Awards
- 2021 Gold Award Winners for Best Transformation Team at the iESE Public Sector Transformation Awards
- 100% digital transformation targets achieved
- 77% rise in people using new waste permit system
- 75% time saving for blue-badge customers
- Time saved in placing people in need of care
- 28 weeks of management time saved per year
- Test and trace system go-live after 10 days
- New apps shared on Netcall Community AppShare
Low-code software for business users and developers. Unite your innovators on one system to improve processes and build better customer experiences.
Craig Barker, Digital & Website Improvement Officer at Cumbria County Council, shares his insight on how digital teams can work together to successfully deliver change.
2020 App of the Year Winners
Cumbria were presented with the 2020 Liberty Create App of the Year Award from Netcall in November 2020, for their Test and Trace App.
Watch this video, where Karl Relph, Cumbria’s Digital Service Design Officer, is presented with the App of the Year award and explains their app.
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