Birmingham City Council is one of Europe’s largest Local Authorities representing over 1 million citizens across the UK’s second-largest city.
Birmingham has a large and diverse population to serve and to keep safe, never more so than during the COVID-19 pandemic where the ability to react and respond quickly to the changing situation has been critical.
When the UK first went into COVID-19 lockdown, Birmingham City Council moved quickly to mobilise 350 Customer Service Advisors to be able to home-work. They needed a way to manage data lists received from central government of citizens considered to be the most vulnerable in the UK requiring shielding to help protect them from the virus. Birmingham City Council needed a consistent and methodical way to process this data and engage their call handlers to contact vulnerable citizens in need of support and then arrange the variety of support requests generated by this service – including the delivery of food by third parties to the collection of prescriptions.
A few weeks later Birmingham City Council needed to introduce their own capability for managing local Test and Trace processes including Outbreak Management and Contact Tracing, enabling them to better orchestrate their internal and external resources to identify and control outbreaks of COVID-19 across the city.
As the first lockdown period ended, Birmingham City Council again needed additional new processes and supporting systems in place quickly to help get their own staff back to work in a safe and controlled way, including the booking of desk space in their buildings which were re-opening.
Hitachi Solutions worked with Birmingham’s ICT and Digital team to rapidly design, build and deploy a series of applications based on Microsoft’s Power Platform – a secure, cloud-based low-code no-code platform.
Hitachi Solutions had already built the Vulnerability Hub – a Power Platform solution for Local Authorities to manage the data and processes to support vulnerable citizens who were shielding or self-isolating as a result of COVID-19. Hitachi Solutions and Birmingham were able to take this solution and further configure it to Birmingham’s specific processes, standing up the solution in a small number of weeks rather than the typical months needed for traditional custom app development.
The pandemic has caused authorities to have to quickly adapt to new and evolving requirements including obligations passed down from central government. Requirements began to emerge for localised Test and Trace services including the control of localised outbreaks and local contact tracing. Hitachi Solutions worked closely with Birmingham in further enhancing the Vulnerability Hub solution to bring in newly designed processes and datasets to support Test and Trace.
Birmingham asked Hitachi Solutions whether we could help in rapidly standing up solutions to support the safe re-opening of offices including staff booking of facilities and visitor registration. Hitachi Solutions had a portfolio of Power Platform solutions ready-made to support a range of COVID-19 related ‘Return to Work’ scenarios, which enabled accelerated delivery of these new capabilities for the authority.
Working with Hitachi Solutions has been a really positive experience. They understand and get what we have to do and why we have to do it. They have supported our internal team’s first foray into low-code no-code platforms. It was a very quick turnaround to meet tight deadlines from a situation that nobody expected.
Head of Business Solutions, Birmingham City Council
Birmingham City Council has been able to demonstrate first-hand within the authority, the benefits of the Microsoft Power Platform low-code no-code approach to solving a range of business problems. Moving forwards, Birmingham is excited about the opportunities this affords to putting solutions in front of end-user communities rapidly, securely and at a lower cost than through traditional local government application investments.