Low code helps council face the COVID-19 crisis
Croydon Council is making the most of its newly acquired 'low code' technology to help businesses and residents during the coronavirus lockdown.
This new capability is proving to be vital as the council rises to meet the challenge of the coronavirus. We’ve built 2 apps already. The first enables us to understand the status of key services across the council, and contribute to a London-wide picture. The second, which went live on Monday, enables local businesses to apply for grants of up to £25,000.
Work started on a third app today. This will allow us to keep track of requests from residents who need our help the most. We’re aiming to put it live on Friday.
How we got here
It’s worth reflecting on how far we’ve come in a few short months. Our procurement finished in January and 13 people attended a 3-day training course in February. This seems a long time ago now!
After that, we started work on building the core of the system – things like address lookups and single sign on. When the COVID-19 lockdown was enforced, we had to change tack and be ready to build for real.
This meant we had to do a lot of work in a very short space of time, including:
- single sign on for staff (ie they only have to register once to access everything we build)
- styling the apps to look like the new website, so everything is consistent and easy to use
- lots of integrations that residents and staff will never see, including Power BI for dashboards, and GOV.UK Notify for sending text messages
- providing a data extract for the council’s finance system
We managed to do all of this, and build our first 2 apps, in 10 working days. The key was having the right skills to hand. We created a multi-disciplinary team comprising developers, content designers, an interaction designer and the services involved. This allowed us to make quick decisions and iterate the work as needed. At one point we were doing 3 show-and-tells per day of the latest updates.
I’d like to thank everyone involved. They’re a talented and motivated group of people and it’s a pleasure to work with them. Also thanks to Netcall colleagues who were on hand to help with anything we couldn’t do ourselves. We held a few video calls with them to work through the most tricky parts of the apps.
Low code has already proven its worth in Croydon. We went live with the Business Grants app at 5pm on Monday and within 12 hours over 500 businesses had applied. The first payments will be made this week. That support could make the difference between a business staying afloat or failing.
We’re hoping to make our apps available on Netcall’s App Share so other councils on the platform can use them. We’re also looking at apps built by other councils such as Adur & Worthing’s Call for Volunteers to see if Croydon can use them.
If you have any questions about our low code work, please do message us below. We’ll post another update here shortly.