If Open311 doesn’t mean anything to you, don’t worry: all you need to know is that it’s a protocol which allows services like FixMyStreet to drop your reports directly into the council’s workflow systems. No-one has to do the tedious and time-consuming job of re-typing the details from an email into fields that the system will accept — it just slots everything in the right place.
Open means innovation
But the most important aspect of Open311 is the word ‘open’.
Open standards, like open data or open source code, are free for anyone to use. And we believe they are the key to both enterprise and economy within the sector.
Anyone can use them to create an app or a web tool. The result is a fertile environment where government can pick applications from a variety of sources. Great ideas can blossom anywhere, and this allows the freedom to find them in internal teams, external providers, or even independent developers who produce stuff for free because they want to.
There are further benefits for councils, too. Standards are (of course) standardised — so any tool built for Open311 can connect with any system adapted to accept compliant inputs. This allows for a pick-and-mix approach where multiple systems can be put together, and for councils to swap suppliers in and out as required, without longterm tie-ins.
Nigel Tyrell is the driver behind the big switchover at Lewisham. From April, their LoveLewisham app will take reports from any Open311-compliant application that sends it reports — including FixMyStreet.
By adopting Open311 we can hook into the fantastic FixMyStreet site and apps while developing our in-house LoveLewisham Peer2Peer app to provide a much more effective response.
Open standards bring savings
Going down this route has also brought substantial cost savings for Lewisham, and will continue to do so: Nigel forecasts a benefit of around £118,000.
We have saved £13k a year by ending our contract with the previous supplier. We’ve developed our LoveLewisham P2P app in-house and used the first year of savings to buy our operatives decent smartphones.
It’s not just the contract, though — the new approach has allowed for a restructuring of the team.
In part, savings will be made by staff who are already out and about on various duties being able to put their own reports directly into the system, thanks to those smartphones.
The strength of LoveLewisham has always been the implementation of mobile technology by our front-line workers.
This in turn means that customer services staff time will be freed up. Overall, Nigel reckons he’s looking at a saving of around £105,000 in staffing costs.
We’ll help you do the same
We helped Lewisham in this shift to Open311. And, if you’re a council whose systems support the Open311 GeoReport v2 spec, then we’ll happily hook you up to receive reports from FixMyStreet, and provide access to a test site to perform your own end-to-end testing.