[Andy Hoare, Head of Service ICT, will present update report on the Digital Transformation Programme]
Andy Hoare, Head of ICT, gave an overview of the progress against the delivery of the Future Works Digital Transformation Programme. The Head of ICT advised the group that the programme has been operating for 12 months. The Head of ICT explained the aims of the programme and explained that it consisted of four integrated themes of work.
The Head of ICT explained the governance and project management arrangements for the programme. The programme is supported by a mix of council employees and external contractors. The Head of ICT commented on the work done to ensure the Council becomes self-sufficient in the future through activities aimed at transferring skills and knowledge to Council employees from specialist contractors and others.
The Head of ICT gave some examples of the progress made by each of the project streams and the benefits to the Council of delivering services more efficiently and how the information collected by the programme is being used to support decision making across all levels of the Council. The Head of ICT commented on work done to enhance the service in response to customer feedback and to look for opportunities to improve the quality of data. The Head of ICT commented on the work currently underway to allow citizens to engage with the Council by registering on-line and creating a ‘My Account’. The service will take citizens to a menu of council services.
The current range of services will be further enhanced in the New Year by adding other services to the menu that can be accessed using a range of devices.
The panel queried the vision for the Digital Transformation Programme and expressed concern that when such changes were introduced elsewhere, with the stated aim that people would have choices about how to access Council services, the changes introduced resulted in the services only being accessed digitally.
The Head of ICT reassured the panel that the aim of the programme is to offer good digital alternatives to existing communication methods so that people used whichever channel is convenient for them. The programme will adopt ‘digital by design’ principles and not ‘digital by default’, where citizens will retain a choice about how they access council services.
The panel queried the data protection implications of the information that residents need to register to access online services and the potential for people to abuse the system by giving false details. The Head of ICT explained the authentication process used to confirm someone’s identity. A user will be asked to provide a valid email address to activate an account and this will be used for all future communication. In addition, a person can choose to access some digital services as a guest user. The Head of Service explained that in the future the system will be able collate information from other sources to assist in the verification of a person’s identity.
The panel discussed the future expansion of the ‘My Account’ portal and the planned future rollout of the services that will be available to users to request and pay for (when appropiate).
The panel queried if the system used by the public to report issues using the ReportIt App still needs a person to action the matter. The Head of ICT confirmed that further work is needed to deliver the full functionality - from a person reporting the issue to the Council, to it being referred directly to the service to be dealt with, however the Head of ICT confirmed this is the desired outcome that is being worked on. The current process still needs a council employee to refer the issue to the relevant service area to action.
The panel discussed the use of the email address as an identifier and expressed concern about cases involving domestic violence and what will be done to maintain confidentiality. The Head of ICT reassured the panel the level of security would depend on the type of enquiry and that cases involving domestic violence will have extra security checks done.
The panel discussed the range of languages spoken in Wolverhampton and how the Digital Transformation Programme will deal with these enquiries. The Head of ICT advised the panel that the system uses Google translate to ensure consistent and accurate translation of information is offered to meet the needs of different groups. In addition, the accuracy of translation will be tested by members of the citizen panel.
The panel suggested that evidence collected by Equalities Group includes a list of staff who can offer a translation service would be helpful to the work of the service. The panel requested that a report on equalities monitoring data presented by Human Resources should be added to a future agenda for discussion by the panel.
The panel queried the legality of the Council using data collected from Experian and other such organisations, as well as other partner agencies, and the checks to ensure that data protection rules are being adhered too. The Head of ICT explained the benefits to the Council of having access to such information and advised the panel that checks will be undertaken by the Council with these data sharing organisations to ensure people providing their contact and email details have been informed that their information could be shared with a third party.
1. The panel noted the progress against delivery of the Future Works Digital Transformation Programme.
2. The panel agreed to receive a report at a future meeting on employee equalities monitoring data.