Council awarded £286,000 to develop pioneering software

PUBLISHED: 16 November 2021

A new IT project, which is set to transform the way frontline workers manage day-to-day tasks in the community, has received a boost, following news that Colchester Borough Council has been awarded £286,000 from the Government’s Local Digital Fund (LDF).

The council’s successful bid paves the way for its in-house IT team to develop Responder 2, a mobile application that revolutionises the way tasks are assigned directly from customers and councillors through to officers working in the field, using interactive mobile technology.

Trials of Responder have transformed the way the council’s Waste and Neighbourhood teams operate, enabling them to be allocated tasks using a standard mobile handset without the need to access traditional office-based systems – thereby maximising the time they can spend working in the community.

Tasks raised via the application contain all the necessary details – such as location, activity-type, photos, geo-location and maps – which are then intelligently prioritised and routed to the appropriate person to carry out. Managers can see an overview of tasks and status levels and can manage allocations online, should they need to. Trials with Responder will help shape further enhancements to the software, making Responder 2 an even more versatile and effective tool.

Whilst Responder focused on street cleansing tasks, other council services, including grounds maintenance, parks, countryside and arboriculture activities, are all set to benefit from the enhancements planned for Responder 2. These will include portals to allow councillors to gain real-time and summary views of the work undertaken at their request or on behalf of their constituents. Residents will also be able to report issues more-accurately, by providing photos as supporting evidence, and will then receive an automated response to tell them when work is completed.

Responder 2’s ability to generate more detailed real-time data will also help improve business decisions, monitor performance and develop work programmes to tackle potential problem areas in the borough. For example, using better analytical insights to identify hotspots for graffiti or littering, using images and other gathered intelligence to help identify perpetrators and carry out enforcement.

For staff using Responder 2 in the field, who need an improved way of recording their activities and demonstrating performance, the application significantly reduces the need to spend time in the office or travelling, so they can spend more time working in the community.

The LDF’s £286,000 award will help deliver an enhanced Responder 2 over the next six months. Once completed, the upgraded application will be shared with other local authorities – including Tendring and Maldon district councils, who were co-signatories to Colchester’s lead bid – so they can adapt it to meet their own needs, thereby adding to the wider collaborative work the council already undertakes as part of a shared vision with other councils to deliver more user-centred and cost effective services.

Cllr Sue Lissimore, Portfolio Holder for Resources and Deputy Leader of the Council, said: “I am absolutely delighted the LDF has recognised the innovative work to develop Responder 2, which extends our commitment to customer-focused service delivery and continued investment in new technologies that make it much easier for residents to interact with the council. We want to be able to make it as easy as possible for residents to report issues, so I’m delighted that our work to increase access to innovative new digital services has been acknowledged with this major award.

“The deployment and success of Responder 2 means that we – and other local authorities in due course – will be able to deliver more of our services in much smarter ways in the future.”

The LDF, now in its fifth round of funding, is highly competitive. Applicants must demonstrate that their proposals to develop platforms and software will support the local service challenges that all local authorities face. Only three authorities were successful in the Round 4 beta phase.

Page last reviewed: 16 November 2021


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