Richard Pope’s Top Tips for Hack-ney-thon

Richard Pope from Government Digital Service has kindly put together this great list of guides, tools and related projects to refer to for our Hack-ney-thon.

Government Services Design Manual
From April 2014, digital services from the government must meet the new Digital by Default Service Standard. To help anyone looking to build new tools and services the GDS have produced a Government Services Design Manual. Although different to working with local councils the manual could provide some useful general advice for the hack.

Google Analytics Dashboard
Edd Sowden, frontend developer at the GDS, has recently used the Google Analytics dashboard to display real time searches on the GOV.UK site for others in the office as a way to ‘remind people that there are real people out there interacting with the site we are building, who have real user needs they want solving.’ He then went on to make this code available for use to both Code for America and the Citizens Advice Bureau. Here is his GitHub.

Planning Alerts
Planning Alerts is a piece of open sourced software built on Ruby On Rails by OpenAustralia. It’s a free service that alerts users via email of any planning applications sought in their area. The purpose of which is ‘to enable scrutiny of what is being built (and knocked down) in peoples’ communities.’ It was successfully re-used by My Society during a recent sprint with Hampshire Hub Partnership. Here’s the Planning Alerts GitHub.

Smart Answers
Smart Answers is a framework for creating decision trees. Working in partnership, content designers and developers at the GDS have devised a system that guides customers through a series of questions in order to narrow down their problem and offer them helpful advice quickly and easily.

Performance platform
Performance Platform is a dashboarding tool to display performance data about services. It provides real time and archived data on site activity and services accessed. There are currently 106 dashboards to view. The platform was developed with groups like government service managers, journalists, students and researchers in mind, or members of the public interested in finding out how public services are doing. It has also been successfully applied to local government services such as the Warwickshire County Council’s dashboard for library item renewals and Solihull Council’s dashboard for missed waste collections. The tool can be made available to participants during the hack.

Prison Visits Booking System
The Ministry of Justice Digital worked with HMP Rochester to develop a design pattern for booking appointments or visiting orders. The project was then rolled out across a number of pilot prisons to help standardise the process. This has transformed a once disjointed, paper reliant and complicated process meaning that now over 1.5million visits have been successfully navigated since launch. This is a well tested design pattern for booking appointments and can be made available during the hack.