Thanks to the development of a customized app, the notifications from the community guards of the municipality of Sint-Pieters-Leeuw have recently been made digitally. They save a lot of time, send a lot less email to the town and better follow-up is possible. A win-win situation for virtually all stakeholders, because citizens can now also count on more efficient services. This project is a great example of how Sint-Pieters-Leeuw wants to pave the way for digitization, with the Microsoft 365 package on its side. They want to make full use of this and leverage the skills of Inetum-Realdolmen to develop the full potential of the package in their organization.
Sint-Pieters-Leeuw's community guard digitizes notification system with Microsoft Power Platform app
The eyes and ears on the street
The town of Sint-Pieters-Leeuw is located on the outskirts of Brussels and has around 35,000 inhabitants. Some 400 staff members work at the local administration. They are committed to digitization, including the Social Security department. For all non-political, public security functions, there is one overarching issue: community security. The community guards, through their deterring presence in the neighborhoods, increase the citizen's sense of security. They serve as the link between the municipality and the population and signal what is going well or wrong in the municipality to the competent municipal services or to the police.
An over-abundance of emails
Community guards therefore spend a lot of time on the street, but also at their desks. "We had been looking for a long time for a way to follow up on notifications more easily, but especially for a way to reduce the number of emails. Previously, all were sent by email to the departments concerned. Photographs, if any, had to be sent as attachments. As head of department, I was cc'ed in all emails, which resulted in an abundance of emails. This became very confusing over time," says Jolien Touchant, Head of Sint-Pieters-Leeuw's Municipal Security Department. On the one hand, it wasn't always easy to follow up on notifications properly, but we also had little insight into the number of notifications of recurring problems, such as littering, for example. We were therefore looking for a way to easily pass on notifications to the right department and at the same time be able to do something with all this data. We had been toying around with ideas to optimize this for a while but didn't have the expertise to set it up effectively," concludes Touchant.
Sint-Pieters-Leeuw has been working with Inetum-Realdolmen for some time now to guide them towards as many digital ways of working as possible using Microsoft 365. This cooperation takes place via the framework contract of the city of Bruges. “We initially took part in a workshop that covered the various processes we wanted to digitize. We use the resulting roadmap as a general plan for how we can use and roll out Microsoft 365 within our organization. Digitization of the notification system was also appropriate in this context, so we got to work together," says Inge Van Bamis, archive and project manager for the roll-out of Microsoft 365 in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw.
Microsoft Power Platform provides the right messaging system for your budget
The Microsoft Power Platform is used to quickly build business solutions. This platform focuses on automating daily tasks, without the need for lengthy development processes. Jolien’s ideas were transformed into a powerful solution. “Our community guards already had smartphones. A digital notification system in the form of an app was therefore a perfect match. One of our requirements was user-friendliness since our community guards are always on the go. In addition, we were mainly looking for a streamlined process. From signaling to acting," says Touchant. These requirements were the starting point for drawing up the design and features of the app.
This was done in very pragmatically. Every week, we organized an update meeting showing what was built and captured feedback. After a few weeks, the community guards were able to get started with a test version. Based on their experiences, we have evolved a ready-to-use version of the app. "We have found this development process to be very fluid," Touchant continues. “We kept the lines of communication short, which resulted in a very open and constructive dialogue. The experts at Inetum-Realdolmen are accessible, very willing to listen and are always ready to answer urgent questions. Even during the coronavirus period, the contact has always remained very personal.”
Efficiency leads to better service
The app proves its worth in practice every day. Jolien Touchant says: “A notification is registered with just a few clicks. The exact location is saved automatically. The app also knows which underlying services need to be informed based on the type of incident. There is no more than one minute between identification and transmission. The chance of making mistakes or forgetting something has been greatly reduced. The number of emails is now also drastically lower. New colleagues are much faster because the process is largely automated. The community guards also spend much more time on the street. Previously, they returned to the office more quickly to handle all the administrative work. Since they can now follow up their notifications, they can also give feedback to citizens. Citizens appreciate that and feel heard. Our more efficient process, therefore, has a direct impact on the quality of our services.”
The future is full of opportunities
The added value is clear, and this paves the way for many additional functionalities and users in the future. “Over time, we want to evolve towards a general complaints and notification system. The intention is for municipal workers, who are also often out on the street and see a lot, to also have access. Ideally, the notifications from the citizens themselves should also be in the same place so that they can all be monitored and dealt with centrally by the competent services. We will start up a working group to roll out this system across our entire organization", says Touchant. “We also want to continue working on all the data we are currently collecting. Initially, we will start working internally with the notification statistics, but in the long run, we also want to feed these back to the citizens, thereby raising their awareness. In a slightly more distant future, we could even, using algorithms, make predictions and thus suggest optimized routes for our community guards. For example, the figures may show that a certain neighborhood requires extra attention on Wednesday. We are going for a phased approach, but we want to expand this further in a modular way. We will certainly continue to count on the support of Inetum-Realdolmen," concludes Van Bamis.
Want more information?
About Sint-Pieters-Leeuw: www.sint-pieters-leeuw.be/
About our framework contract with City of Bruges: https://www.realdolmen.com/nl/raamcontract-brugge