We have delivered a platform that enables UCL to develop our own web and phone applications quickly and efficiently
What is the Digital Services Enablement Project?
The aim of the Digital Services Enablement (DSE) project was to deliver a platform which allows UCL to build and develop web and phone applications (apps) in-house. Our aim was to make using services simpler and more accessible by providing easier to use and more complete digital services.
The platform enables ISD to develop bespoke apps quickly and efficiently. They can also be designed to interact with existing systems so users don’t have to jump between multiple systems to complete a task. This has helped us to support changes to processes and ways of working without having to invest in expensive and time consuming projects.
How does it help
- Introduces modern ways of working and support for mobile phones and tablets.
- Simplifies complicated, repetitive and confusing tasks.
- Decreases time spent on tasks.
- Decreases the need for systems training and re-training.
- Opens up a future of very quick delivery of small applications to UCL.
Demonstration applications for UCL
After procuring the platform in October 2019, the team worked closely with the UCL community and other TOPS projects to explore and develop a number of initial applications which demonstrate the possibilities of the new platform.
- LEAF (Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework)
LEAF is a sustainability initiative designed for the research and technical community that aims to provide a standardised and easy approach to reducing the environmental impacts of laboratory work. Through our application laboratory users can work through and implement changes around areas such as waste & recycling, equipment, procurement and see how improve both financial savings and environmental impact (carbon footprint).
- External visitor expenses
We’ve developed a web based application that will enable visitors who do not work for UCL to submit expense claims electronically in much the same way as staff. This will be released as a fully functioning product, enhancing the user experience and processing times for approximately 20,000 claims per year.
- Dynamic risk assessment
We’ve developed an application which allows maintenance staff to answer a series of questions regarding the health and safety status prior to initiation of work. The team currently process around 100 of these assessments a week through a manual, paper-based process. Introducing the application will reduce the time spent on administration, enable electronic document storage for a better audit trail, and make it easier to adapt to any changes in health and safety regulation.
Applications helping UCL respond to coronavirus
As the DSE project was coming to an end, we all had to rapidly change the way we work as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The DSE team have been working together alongside colleagues from across UCL to make the most of the platform and respond quickly to these new challenges. Some of these new applications include:
- UCL Together
UCL Together is an initiative developed by Human Resources and Information Services in response to the recognised impact of coronavirus on UCL staff workloads. UCL Together connects teams requiring additional support to manage high volumes of business critical activities with staff who are able to volunteer their time and transferable skills.
- Staff Wellbeing Survey
Staff Wellbeing survey was developed with the DSE platform. These short ‘pulse-check’ surveys provide a snapshot of information to help UCL understand how staff are managing and coping in these challenging times.
The Provost, along with the Critical Leadership Team, review these results in person, every week. They use the data to monitor how well staff are coping and to form a central part of their decision-making process aimed at making sure that the actions they are taking are in your best interest.
- Connect to Protect
The UCL Connect to Protect tool has been designed with public health experts to help us monitor and respond to coronavirus cases at UCL. This does not replace NHS Track and Trace. We will use the data from the tool helps us to:
- Respond to potential and positive cases and ensure we are offering support to individuals and departments;
- Identify and respond to potential outbreaks and to manage our collective response in partnership with Camden & Islington Public Health;
- Inform our internal coronavirus testing programme.
DSE project now part of business as usual
The project has now part of business as usual and managed by the Information Services Division. The team will provide further consultation and software development services – working with the UCL community to help them explore, shape and develop the ideas they have into apps. Using a flexible, dynamic approach the team will collaborate with our students, academics and staff to ensure their objectives are met.
What do they need from you?
The team will be looking for opportunities for new applications from the UCL community. they will be asking you to:
- Think about any ideas you have to improve your existing processes
- Consider any important unmet needs you may have
- Send your ideas to the DSE project team at firstname.lastname@example.org
The DSE team will work with you to explore these requests and put them through our governance process to identify if they can provide a suitable solution. Once they have been developed they will widely publicise new apps so you’ll know what is available.