In July 2017, following the Grenfell Tower Fire, an independent review of building regulations and fire safety was announced by Dame Judy Hackitt. The review focused on issues related to high rise residential buildings including regulatory details such as design and construction and compliance and enforcement issues. Since then, Local Government authorities have to ensure safety checks are carried out on such buildings to determine whether they are fit for purpose. However, in order to gather and have full visibility of information and surveys carried out, local councils are increasingly implementing mobile solutions across their field teams. Using mobile workforce management solutions empowers the councils’ workforce to capture intelligent data and access the information needed from a single platform to deliver services efficiently.
Totalmobile’s response to helping organisations deal with the output of the Hackitt Review lead to the creation of our Every Officer concept that since then has been incredibly popular with local authorities as a means to driving genuine transformation right across councils.
In our latest interview, Totalmobile’s Managing Director for Local Government & Healthcare, Charles Knight provides an overview of the Hackitt Review, why recording information for auditing purposes and compliance is important in local government, the Every Officer concept and how mobile technology can help improve efficiencies, mobility and service delivery across local authorities. Charles has extensive experience in working with councils and the local government sector on implementing digital solutions in order to achieve improved efficiencies and joined Totalmobile in 2016 to ensure our customers are fully benefiting from Totalmobile’s solutions.
Can you tell us about the Hackitt review and what it means for local government? How has Totalmobile made an impact in relation to this?
“The Hackitt Review was a report that was derived off the back of the Grenfell disaster. It essentially mandated the requirement for local government councils to survey high rise buildings in terms of checks such as cladding and more broader inspections including fire extinguishers checks and the general wear and tear of a building. This was required as a preventative measure of the disaster ever repeating itself.
It uncovered an increased demand placed upon local councils to not only resource the need for these inspections, but it also required a specific demand upon the councils themselves to have staff available to go and undertake the audits. Whilst speaking with numerous councils, they’ve stated that rather than bringing staff in from other departments or seconding them from other projects, and negating the need to bring additional staff in, they focused on how to use the existing capacity within those respective teams. Those teams would then go out and compile surveys as a mechanism of their compliance with the output of the Hackitt report.
Totalmobile has helped local authorities such as London Borough of Newham to deliver such services through our Mobilise solution. At the time, Newham were directly impacted by the Hackitt legislation as the Grenfell disaster took place within their jurisdiction. Within 24 – 48 hours, Newham adopted the concept of Totalmobile being an enterprise proposition. We quickly designed a series of forms which had a reporting output and allowed them to go out and complete audits efficiently. Newham completed approximately 450 audits utilising 4 mobile workers dedicated to undertaking these audits, otherwise it would have seen them taking on an additional 25 members of staff. We built them a stand alone solution utilising our Mobilise forms.
We are speaking to other councils in respect of the Hackitt report and again they see the benefit in terms of compliance, and it allows for auditability because it supports HSE legalisation. It’s all about how do you use mobile and digital technology to ensure compliance at all times but also you’ve auditable history to say we’ve gone out, we’ve surveyed, here are our findings and being able to report that back for the benefit of compliance at a HSE level.”
Can you tell us about the Every Officer concept?
“The Every Officer concept looks at how councils can enable every member of staff to embrace the concept of support that underpins the duty of care required by councils in order to deliver the best form of service to residents in that local jurisdiction. It ensures the point of contact in touch with the resident is compiling the information that will inevitably deliver an improved level of service. When you look at the strategies of a lot of local councils, their desire is all about how do we improve customer service. A large driver for councils is online services, which is great, but obviously you’ve got a lot of people interfacing with these individuals. For example, if I’m an engineer working within the housing and repairs service area and I’ve got a visit in my diary to go out to a resident, I go there and during that same time I’m in a bit of a hostile situation as I’m noticing things while I’m undertaking the repair. This could be anything from supporting the need for a mental health issue for example or perhaps it is apparent a child is being abused. So, as a member of the council, I’ve a duty of care to that resident and therefore the ability to quickly compile some information that could be forwarded over to the most appropriate department. This will enable the relevant department to have more background context to then deliver an even better level of service. Rather than being active to situations, councils can be pro-active in terms of their approach.”
How will local government authorities benefit from taking on board the Every Officer approach?
“I think councils will embrace the Every Officer approach moving forward by looking at estates rationalisation, because everyone that is engaging with residents on a day to day basis, in essence, is a mobile worker by definition because they are having some form of interaction. There is a natural cost saving, there is also an improved intelligence benefit. This is the sharing of information which is being gleaned at the front line that then can benefit multiple different departments. Otherwise, you’ve got isolated set ups that will derive little or no value. For local authorities, it’s about looking at how do you use intelligence and information to deliver an even greater and an even superior level of service.
Additionally, there are capacity improvement benefits. A lot of departments are under huge pressure now especially with the Covid-19 situation. So, it’s all about doing more with less and being able to mobilise individuals so they’re not limited to one specific area, allowing them to work across multiple different areas. It allows for sharing of resources and reduces costs on bringing additional staff members in. Cost savings is therefore a huge benefit as well as compliance and the customer element, which is all about driving that improved level of service. As previously mentioned, local authorities’ strategies are all directed to improving the customer service as well as improving the wellbeing and support that is being provided to the residents in the local jurisdiction and the community.”
How do you think mobile technology will help local councils going forward?
“Covid-19 is completely changing the behaviours of how local councils and government institutions are setting themselves up. At the moment, they can’t access their main facilities and are having to work from a home working environment. I think that will provide a pendulum shift in how the council works. If they acknowledge they can function in a home working environment, I think that’s only going to accelerate their views on mobility and how mobility can play a role in delivering cost reductions. Business and councils will be able to operate in a different way and that will only support the concept of an Every Officer approach – which is people being able to do anything they need through one mobile app.”
Mobile Workforce Management from Totalmobile
Totalmobile’s Mobilise solution is a Workforce Management Solution that empowers your workforce to capture intelligent data and access the information needed to deliver services efficiently, first time. It can be used by every member of staff across multiple service areas within local government authorities which meets their specific needs, via a single platform that is easy to manage and support. If you’d like further information, visit our website www.totalmobile.co.uk