Bury Council has partnered with leading Cloud and Digital Services Provider, ANS, to quickly and easily coordinate requests for support and volunteering in the community in response to the Covid-19 crisis.
ANS worked with the Council to build a mobile-friendly application using the Microsoft Power Platform which works by pulling together data on individuals who are considered to be vulnerable, from a range of sources and formats, along with a request service.
Vulnerable individuals can contact the council’s contact centre where they will be asked some basic questions about what they need, along with details such as any underlying medical conditions and if they have been contacted by the NHS. The answers to which are fed into a triage process then sent to a volunteer hub manager who allocates a person to pick up the task.
The manager can register a new volunteer and can manage the tasks using a map of the area, recording any problems that may arise, such as an incorrect address or the attempted delivery of a wrong prescription.
Volunteers can see details of the jobs they have been allocated on a portal and can register when they have been completed.
Nicky Parker, who is managing the emergency community hubs in Bury, said, “When faced with the need to deliver a responsive and robust, community response service for the people of Bury, it quickly became clear to us that we needed a system to help us manage and match the requests for help being made to the Council with the capabilities of our various in house teams and of course our fantastic 700 strong team of volunteers. We can’t afford to miss any of these requests – they are critical to making sure that some of our most vulnerable residents and their families are kept safe at this time. We felt that paper-based approaches and spreadsheets were simply not going to be up to the job.”
“We first approached the team at Microsoft to discuss the challenge and within a few hours had spun up a project team to work on this with us, including the ANS team who have worked tirelessly on developing the application.”
Cllr Sharon Briggs, cabinet member for communities at Bury Council, said: “This project is an excellent example of partnership working in the community during these challenging times. This technology will streamline communication channels and ensure the people in need of support will be top priority. It will support volunteers at the front end of delivery to have improved communication links, maximising their valuable time and goodwill to further aid the quality of service they are giving.”
Andy Barrow, CTO at ANS added, “We were very keen to offer our support and expertise in providing Bury Council with a fast and effective solution. With many vulnerable people unable to leave their homes to get food and medicine, we knew time was critical. By working with Microsoft and leveraging the Power Platform, we were able to build the application in just 72 hours.”
The application is hosted on Greater Manchester’s Digital Platform, offering an exciting opportunity for this application to be rolled out across the region. Greater Manchester Combined Authority, along with ANS, are currently in discussions with the other nine boroughs offering the rapid deployment of the app in their locality. In addition, to support councils across the UK, ANS has now made this templated application free for any council wishing to use it.