Transforming governments and the communities they serve – the human side of technology

Every day, customers remind us that we create software that makes a real difference. Here, we reflect on why there’s more to technology than just data and information, and why community always comes first.

When we hear lives are being saved, children protected, environments preserved and many other examples, I feel a great sense of pride in what we deliver here at Objective.

Working in the software space for the last 30+ years, it’s sometimes easy to forget that while technology aims to address the modern challenges and demands of public service delivery, there are users and beneficiaries at the end of it all that rely on such innovation. This is especially true in recent years where communities have been more vulnerable than ever.

Our recent webinar with partner Socitm aimed to share some of the inspiring stories from UK Public Sector organisations who are delivering positive community outcomes through secure collaboration and information sharing with external partners and agencies. This comes at a time when operating a modern working environment, including remote and hybrid working, brings its own risks around security and information governance.

What happens to information when I share it? Where does it go? Who has interacted with it, when and where? These are just some of the questions we hear in relation to information and file sharing.

That’s why we’re supporting organisations to be more transparent and responsive via Objective Connect, in turn delivering the community outcomes needed.

Here’s one Council’s story…

Middlesbrough Council – From Children’s Services to SARs

Joining our Socitm session was Leanne Hamer, Information, Complaints and Records Manager at Middlesbrough who explained the Council’s adoption of Objective Connect for community good:

“We had an issue across our children's services department, particularly around children who go missing… it was a very disjointed approach. So, to notify somebody, for example, that a young person had gone missing, it’s numerous phone calls and there's a lot of staff involved in that, not to mention the staff who were out in the field physically looking for these individuals.

“At 2 o'clock in the morning when you get a call, you're sort of thinking, there's got to be a better way of doing this... It was an absolute no-brainer that we needed to involve Objective Connect in this service.

“So, we had conversations with the police, service managers, directors within the service, health, and anybody else that needed to be informed that these young people were missing. We set up forms within the system where staff could keep them updated, hit one button, and they are notified immediately. Everybody knows, everybody gets the alert, and more importantly, nobody can say they're not informed because we've got the audit trails.

“It cut down the effort from a member of staff having to say, “you're my first phone call, I've got another 15 to make” before the effort then goes into finding and safeguarding the young people involved. All involved parties have got all the information, all at the same time in one place – from what they're wearing and what they look like to any of the risks involved.

“Objective Connect been really, really useful to us. We use it in lots of other ways, but this is a shining example of how the effort of setting it up and the improvements that it's made to the service have shown for us in Middlesbrough.”

At 2 o'clock in the morning when you get a call, you're sort of thinking, there's got to be a better way of doing this... It was an absolute no-brainer that we needed to involve Objective Connect in this service.

Leanne Hamer, Information, Complaints and Records Manager, Middlesbrough Council

The full Middlesbrough Council Children's Services case study can be viewed here.

When asked about any other areas of adoption at the Council, Leanne commented:

“Yes! So, we also use it for our foster carer recording information, which has historically been a huge issue across Middlesbrough. At one point, it was you write it down and somebody will come and collect it, then they moved on to trying to get them to engage and put information on USB sticks, which then we have security issues around maybe foster carers holding data on their own devices. It's taken away loads of the anxiety for the team and made it a much quicker process, because that information can go straight into our document management system, so we don't have information held elsewhere.”

Other examples Leanne cited included using Objective Connect: Exclusively for subject access requests where “the audit trail, again, is invaluable”; and for the newest Council use case – disaster recovery – across the organisation. This has been especially significant considering the pandemic.

Making a difference where it matters

The ability to share information quickly and easily seems like a simple concept but is a severe security risk, prone to human error if managed incorrectly.

Just some of the other local and central government examples of using Objective Connect mentioned on our Socitm webinar included:

  • Welsh Government – coordinating the distribution of food parcels to those in need across Wales
  • Glasgow City Council – identifying and sharing information on high-risk victims of domestic abuse
  • Cumbria County Council – providing an emergency response to major incidents and supporting disaster recovery plans
  • Electoral Commission – protecting UK democracy

You can read more about all the above via our Customer Stories webpage.

And to discover how you too can have full control over the information shared internally and outside of your organisation, watch the Socitm webinar on-demand now, or visit the Objective Connect webpage.