LG Inform - Ian Carbutt, looking forward, looking back

 

Exciting blog this week from Ian Carbutt, the programme manager for LG Inform, who we have prised away from his desk to explain what has been going on with LG Inform this year and what has happened this year.

 

Ian, as manager of LG Inform this year has been very busy for you and your team, can you let me know how this year has gone for your programme?

This year has gone very quickly and there have been many challenges along the way. We have taken on board over 200 recommendations from authorities on how to improve on the LG Inform prototype. Building the new system has been very challenging and it cannot be under estimated the hours we have spent developing, testing and re-testing the system. We have had authorities involved in July and August to give additional feedback on the site and assist with the testing on their local environments to see how the site preformed. This has been painstaking work, checking the site is operational, the code is correct and that the technical environment is suitable for used in local authorities.

However, now we are extremely pleased with LG Inform and everything we have achieved in the last year. However, there is still much to do and we are now looking forward to building on the foundation over the coming months with feedback from users.

 

Can you explain what the main changes are to the new site for users?

Yes of course, there have been many changes to the site, not all of the visible to the users but the main changes to the site are as follows

1.       Authorities can now easily export reports and components they have built in LG Inform and display them on their public websites, this helps authorities to open their data up and be more transparent with residents.

2.       The visualisations on the site, the charts, map, and table are of much better quality and therefore can be exported as PDF reports and can be generated into high quality images.

3.       Every component of the reports, including charts, tables, maps, text and the data can be exported and used externally from LG Inform. This mean authorities have greater flexibility if they want to use the information outside LG Inform using local systems or with local branding but still retain the accuracy and legacy of where the data has come from.

4.       The site can be personalised to a high degree now by registered users, colours, corporate logos can be added to reports. The homepage can be amended to show dials that are of interested to each user. Display and comparison groups a can be built to show exactly what data the end users requires. All the personalisation means the site if much more flexible for users.

 

What are the plans going forward for LG Inform now?

We continue to improve LG Inform and we will be refining the programme plan for the coming months. There will be continuing enhancements to the system as we are aware of some new functionality that users have already expressed an interest in. We are looking to make the site compatible on tablets and mobiles and we also know there to be some small issues remaining in the site that need to be resolved. The tablet work will mean that users will be able to undertake some basic functions on these devises such as searching and viewing the data via the LGA Standard Report. All this work, alongside demonstrating LG Inform at meetings and events will keep the team more than busy over the next year.

Another piece of work we are keen to progress with the sector is on early sight and local data and have taken a series of steps to get this work underway. We want the LG Inform database to be the recognized resource for authorities to use and get latest accurate and timely data. Additionally, we have work going on to open up this database for wider use using the LG Inform API. More information about new development can be found here.

We are also working with our partners on developing LG Inform Plus which is a subscription based service via the rebranded esd-toolkit programme. LG Inform Plus supplements the LG Inform service, giving subscribers the power to drill down from authority wide information to much smaller areas, such as wards. Allowing greater access to more detailed information gives a better understanding of an authority's business challenges and performance. Plus, the service is based on the framework of local government information sharing standards making information easy to use and giving consistency across the sector. LG Inform Plus also provides other helpful tools and assistance from a dedicated support team

For more details about this please see this previous interview with Tim Adams or more details can be found here.

 

Are there any events to demonstrate LG Inform or can you visit authorities?

Events, yes! We have a series of events running in Q1 next year which will showcase LG Inform and LG Inform Plus to show users the variety of functions these new resources can do. More details and booking details can be found here. Although we are a small team and are unable to visit individual authorities to demonstrate LG Inform we are keen to attend any regional / sub-regional events or meetings were several authorities are present. Just so we can reach as many people as possible. So, if you know of any events where we would be able to have a slot, please let us know by emailing us at lginform@local.gov.uk.

 

Where can users get more information or help?

A number of different resources have been developed to help users get the most from LG Inform and there are many places where users can go for help or ask question or give us feedback about the site, these include:

1.       The feedback form in LG Inform itself. This feedback is sent to our support team, who will contact anyone who gives feedback to help with queries or discuss feedback.

2.       Our Knowledge hub group, this group can be used to ask questions or leave comments about the site. We try to share questions we have been sent through this site so everyone can see our replies. Feel free to post any question you might have here or comments or suggestions here.

3.       There are a number of short help guides within LG Inform itself which cover the key functions and use of the new tool and we also have help pages on the Knowledge hub group. These guides go through some basic steps to use the site. We are building on these all the time and additional ones will become available in the New Year e.g. building individual component ones, administration role etc. They will be shared as soon as they are complete.

Also, for additional background and perspectives on the origins and rationale behind LG Inform we have an FAQ section on LG Inform which covers many aspects of the site as well as a section about users as well as the rationale behind LG Inform that can be used when discussing LG Inform within your authority.

4.       Lastly we have a LG Inform e-mail address where you can send question or comments directly to the team, Lginform@local.gov.uk  Any technical questions about the site or access can be sent to support@esd.org.uk

 

Great, thanks Ian, now after a long day of testing LG Inform, what do you relax with a long iced latte or iced tea? Definitely an iced tea?

And throughout those sleepless nights of testing what have you been reading? Game of Thrones!

Many thanks Ian for the update, it is great to hear all the news for the coming year. Today’s interesting fact is that it is 45 years since Japans biggest heist, the still-unsolved "300 million yen robbery

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