Sprint 1

Notes and show & tell from Placecube

In this sprint Martin, our Business Analyst (BA), has been working with each Local Authority partner to identify all of the existing work, from user research insights to process maps, technical designs or interface specifications (produced during their previous Discovery and Alpha phases) - anything that helps us understand how the various Waste Services have been implemented in each council and why.

Some councils have a wide range of documentation available across multiple Waste Services, whereas others have far less. Where we have found gaps, Martin has been reverse engineering the processes, by working from the online forms that councils publish for residents to use, and investigating how they connect to the back-office systems and services, with the help of the BAs and technical leads at each council.

The goal of this work is to identify the similarities and differences between the councils, so that we can design a common core, and understand where services need to be changed to take account of variations in councils’ policies, sourcing arrangements, geography and other things like whether or not in-cab devices are available. All of these differences will need to be supported by configurable low-code components (known as 'Cubes' within the Placecube Digital Place platform environment) so that councils can take these and easily tailor them to their particular set of circumstances.

As an example - if Council A doesn’t have in-cab devices, they can’t get real time data about why collections were missed. So if they want to minimise the number of rejected requests, their Missed Collection form might have a rule that prevents residents submitting it before a defined time of day, when it’s known that the lorry won’t be returning. But if Council B does have in-cab devices, instead of a time-of-day rule, they can request the resident's postcode, look up the round in their back-office system, interrogate the in-cab device data to see if there’s a reason for the missed collection, and then only allow a report if there’s a valid reason for it - so for instance you would not be able to report a missed collection if the bin had not been put out at the right time, or if it had been overfilled etc.

In this Sprint the team attended a Show & Tell session hosted by Northumberland County Council, where they shared the findings of some user research they had commissioned from an external agency - some of these insights will feed into our design work. DLUHC also connected us with Rushmoor Borough Council, who have been developing, redesigning and improving their digital Waste Services. We met their team and have begun sharing experiences and learning - and we're looking forward to continuing this information sharing, and informal collaboration, with them over the coming months.

There are many Waste Services which could potentially be in scope during this phase, however the team have agreed to prioritise two relatively straightforward 'quick win' services, followed by a bigger and more complex service, which are:

  • Find my bin collection days
  • Assisted bin collections / Pull-outs
  • Garden Waste collection subscriptions

There have been more gaps in the documentation of existing services than we had originally anticipated, so in the next sprint Martin will continue to work on reverse engineering the process maps and technical details, validating this work with the partner councils. Our user researcher, Bal, will review the existing research that we’ve gathered, and she will begin to look for areas where we may need to plan and undertake more research, to either fill gaps in understanding or design any user testing needed to validate the services that we're building. Our Technical Architect, Dave, will also be working on the design of enhancements to our low code integration connectors, and management capabilities, for the various Waste Service back-office systems used by each of the LA partners (i.e., Bartec, Echo, Webaspx and Mayrise/Yotta Alloy).

Our Sprint 2 Show & Tell session will be held online at 2pm on 1 March, so please do get in touch if you'd like to attend this.

This project has been funded by the DLUHC Local Digital Fund.