West Berkshire Council

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Digital Services Blog

Highlighting the work of our Digital Services Team

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My Family Plan

Making it easier to offer early help

Written on: 11-6-2019

Caring for Children and Families

There are few things a council does which are more important than safeguarding children.

The Department for Education describe early help, also known as early intervention, as support given as soon as a problem emerges, at any stage in a child or young person's life.

Over the past few months the council's Digital Services team and our Children and Families Service have been working with partners to create a digital service to support early help.

Moving away from a paper based system, consisting of browser based forms, digital workflow, and data analysis tools we've created My Family Plan, which we'll be introducing as part of our early help offer soon.

Whilst the new service will be more efficient, more importantly it will make it easier for staff and partner organisation to support children and their families though early help, and that's what really matters. 



What's Online

We've made attending events in West Berkshire easier

Written on: 28-1-2019


Last week we launched a new platform to allow residents to book and pay for tickets to events organised by West Berkshire Heritage.

With details of almost 50 bookable events and over 50 more free or drop-in sessions, it's a step forward in giving residents and visitors to West Berkshire access to digital services and information.

The next part of this project will focus on making spaces and equipment managed by the council across the district available to book online.

You can view West Berkshire Heritage events here.


Building Services Using Accurate Data

How we're benefiting by using the government's new registers

Written on: 19-3-2018

JSON Bank Holidays

Rather than buy IT systems for every new online service we provide, where we can we're adopting a 'Government as a Platform' approach.

What this means is for common tasks like making a payment, sending a text, or completing a form, we try to re-use what we already have. Not only does this help to create consistency across all our online services, it saves money as we're not buying systems that have some of the same functionality over and over again.

The same is true of data, and where possible we try to refer to a single source of authoritative data across everything we do. An example of this are the registers provided by the Government Digital Service (GDS). Registers are live lists of data, each managed by a someone from within government. They represent the government's approved version of that data.

Some services such as bulky waste collection have specific days of the week for different areas, but when that's a bank holiday we don't collect on that day. Because of this we've started to incorporate GDS' public holiday register into a new service we're creating for bulky waste collections, which means we never need to keep this up to date.

It's only a minor part of creating the service, but we'll be re-using this data for every new service that's affected by a bank holiday and there will soon be tens of other registers available, to incorporate into our online services.

It's a great example of how we're providing better, cheaper services by reusing freely available and accurate data.

You can read more about registers from the Government Digital Service here.


Digital Collaboration Agreement

Working together to create better, cheaper services.

Written on: 14-11-2017


Following discussion between the Digital Services Team here at West Berkshire Council and our counterparts at Oxfordshire County Council, we're pleased to announce a Digital Collaboration Agreement.

In the spirit of LocalGov Digital it's a non-binding collaborative agreement between our two councils, and at their discretion each team will:

  • Share code and other digital development for common platforms and systems with their counterparts, where there is no impact on intellectual property rights or other legal restriction.
  • Advise their counterparts, where one council has particular specialist knowledge that would benefit the other.
  • Support their counterparts in demonstrating developments they have delivered, including to senior managers or members.
  • Meet bi-monthly with their counterparts.

We're hoping it will save both councils time and money, whilst offering support to our colleagues who are transforming services for their citizens.

Time Shift

Our website isn't just for when other channels are unavailable

Written on: 3-7-2017

Website Users by Hour of the Day

"24 hour access to our information and services" is how we promoted our website in the past, and it's still true that our online information and services are available day and night, every day.

Things have moved on however, and whilst our website is still well used up until 10pm every weeknight, it sees the most use between 10am and 4pm on working days. In fact at weekends our website only gets half the use it does during the week.

We know this by using Google Analytics to tell us when people use our website.

This is partly because the online information and services we offer are so good that people want to use them, but more than that, it's the way people to expect to interact with a largely service based organisation these days.

We're pleased we can meet the needs of our users by offering better, cheaper services online, whenever they want to use them.