A mobile-friendly dashboard for service providers' websites
For many organisations which provide services, geography is a fact of life. Consider local authorities, housing associations, emergency services, utilities, insurance companies. They all offer place-based services. They all need to understand where their customers are and how they can best provide services to them. And their customers in turn, have a vested interest in knowing how location affects the services they are able to receive. Recognising this, many place-based service providers are making geographic information directly available to their customers via websites and portals.
What do people want from a service-provider’s website?
Many people who access a service provider’s website do so because they have a personal interest in a place. That place it often defined by their home address. ‘On which day will the council collect my garden waste?’ ‘Where is my nearest day centre?’ ‘What broadband speed can I expect at my address?’ ‘What is the crime level in my area?’ They want a website to provide answers to questions like this, both quickly and easily. They don’t want to have to navigate multiple pages of an unfamiliar website.
How Notice Board helps
Notice Board meets this need by displaying the information which is most commonly requested by visitors to a service provider's website. It uses advanced spatial search techniques to generate personalised responses for each visitor based on location. This could be an address entered by the user, or a geolocation captured by a mobile device. Notice Board then summarises its search results as ‘notices’ pinned digitally on a single page of the website. Users can request more detailed information, including maps, by clicking on hotlinks within a notice.
Notice Board is able to retrieve information quickly and easily because of the advanced spatial database techniques it deploys behind the scenes. These include map-based techniques such as buffering, point-in polygon searching, and the accumulation of statistics. However, the complexity of these operations is completely hidden from the end user, who may choose not to consult a map at all.
There is plenty of evidence that as soon as websites are designed for mobile use, the number of users increase exponentially. Yet according to a recent report prepared for the European Commission, only 1 in 4 public websites in Europe is mobile-friendly1. Notice Board offers an opportunity to provide mobile-friendly spatial searching to an existing website. It is able to detect when a website is being accessed from a mobile device, and it adjusts the screen layout accordingly. Notice Board viewed on a smartphone lends itself to vertical scrolling and features collapsible notices.
Smartphone users can choose satellite positioning to identify their current location automatically. Having done so, Notice Board uses behind the scene spatial searches to reveal information about facilities and services in their vicinity.
Using existing data
Notice Board is able to draw dynamically from the spatial information which a service provider already has in place to support local service delivery. It shares this information and in doing so facilitates a more proactive delivery of information. Notice Board can be a valuable addition to an organisation's tools for improving customer access and enabling channel shift.
Notice Board is a server-based application and requires no installation on PCs or mobile devices. It is delivered as a template ready for customisation, often by the GIS manager. He or she would typically have the necessary skills not only to customise Notice Board but also to maintain and extend it. A particularly valuable extension would be the posting of time-sensitive notices and alerts, such as the cancellation of a scheduled refuse collection or notificaton of school closure. A GIS manager can do this without having to involving web developers, and without having any knowledge of HTML.
When a service provider has acquired Notice Board it is not restricted to using it only as a front end to the organisation's website. The software also lends itself to the delivery of personalised information about events taking place across an organisation. These could be festivals and cultural activities on a council website, and fire prevention initiatives on a fire services website..
Notice Board and channel shift
Notice Board provides an opportunity to dramatically improve a customers' experience in accessing a service provider's website, and encourage online self-service as the channel of choice. In doing so it can make a significant contribution to cost savings for customer interaction.
Click the image below to play a video of Notice Board. An on-line demonstrator can be accessed here.
1. Future-proofing eGovernment for a Digital Single Market, Final Insight Report, European Commission, June 2015