Weeknotes w/c 16 July 2018

A highlight of my schedule is getting the opportunity to meet new members of our team. This week I caught up with Rahma Mohamed (who’s new to Hackney and has joined as a Service Designer) and Lucy (who’s joined us from Hackney’s Planning service and is now Relationship Manager leading on our links with adults’ and children’s social care) and it was great to hear about the work they’re doing and their reflections on joining the HackIT team. We’ve had lots of new starters following our recent recruitment campaign and I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone.

A major theme for my diary this week was information governance and security. I was pleased to hear that we are continuing to make good progress with our work to make sure that our systems are up to date (including patching and decommissioning out of date systems) and training our users in their data protection responsibilities. I spent some time looking through the arrangements for sharing data across health and social care so that we can work together and provide more effective care services. And I was also very encouraged to see the progress that’s been made with the development of our information asset register and I learned something new – I didn’t realise that local authorities are responsible for licencing stage hypnotism performances, but I now know that we do under the terms of the 1952 Hypnotism Act!

Cate D, Dawn, Henry Lewis and I caught up mid-week to check in on our Health and Safety arrangements, making sure that we have these in hand following our move into the Hackney Service Centre in the spring. We’ve had a good number of volunteers come forward to be fire marshals and first aiders (thank you to the people who’ve volunteered for that) and are making sure that the required training has been organised. We’re also going to be checking to make sure that everyone has complete their workspace assessments so that we know that we’ve identified anyone who might need additional adjustments to make sure that the workspace is comfortable and safe for them.

On Thursday I had my regular catch up with Kay, our director of customer services. Our team have been working hard to support Kay’s service and we reflected on some significant successes, including the infrastructure upgrades for the systems they rely on that were delivered in the spring and real success in the way that we’ve worked together to design and implement a new service approach in response to the Homelessness Reduction Act (Hackney were one of the first authorities to be ready for this, ahead of the statutory schedule, and soundings from other boroughs suggest that the service we’ve designed together with our partners FutureGov is working very effectively when compared to the experience others have had). Looking forward we spent some time discussing ways we can make it easier for residents to access Council services that require authentication and work to make it easier for residents to manage payments for the money that they owe the Council.

I try to make sure I’m making some time each week to learn about new ideas and this week had a number of interesting discussions. These included meeting Patric and Tim from Linkd, a lifestyle brand loyalty startup based in Hackney whose approach got me thinking about the directory of services work we’re doing; Katie and Kris from Amazon Web Services for a broad ranging conversation covering digital platforms, skills and culture; Amy from Public to hear about their Govstart programme which is helping new digital start ups develop public service offerings; and Matt from Stamp to take a look at how his ‘CIO Priorities’ cards might provide a different lens to look at the work we’re doing and help test the way we’re joining these up and identify gaps / tensions.

(The cards are based on common priorities that Matt’s distilled from conversations with CIOs across the public and private sectors. We looked at how these might map to the themes we’re using to shape our work at Hackney and also picked out ones that aren’t aligned with things we want to focus on – the ones at the bottom right. It’s not a perfect fit but I thought it prompted some interesting things to think about in terms of how the themes and our team structures link up.)

The week wrapped up with check ins with Temple, Henry and Michael to keep up to speed with our end-user device refresh work (we’re starting some user research to help us understand what sorts of device will work best for different working styles – thank you to Richard for offering to help with shape that!) and with Steve and Cate to bring me up to speed with Steve’s review of our contracts and purchasing processes (which is helping us identify new areas where we can drive out savings and also opportunities to simplify some of our internal processes).

Something I’ve learned this week

On Tuesday I learned that falling over while running is much more painful in your mid-40s than it was when I was a child and have spent the rest of the week bandaged up and hobbling a bit. And on Wednesday I was reminded how useful it is to be able to use Hangouts Meet video calls to join meetings so that I could give myself an extra day at home to help the mending process without missing out on any important discussions.