Digital design to inform NSW customers of air quality
NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment's (DPIE) Digital Experience and Solutions team look after more than 100 external websites and applications including:
These websites account for more than 100 million customer interactions each year.
We spoke with Nerida Mooney, Director of Digital Experience and Solutions at DPIE about creating a unified customer experience for visitors to these sites with the NSW Design System.
Launched by the Department of Customer Service, the Design System which enables creators to design, build and deliver websites, apps and other digital products within the NSW Government that are accessible and seamless for users. It has been key to the development of DPIE's new air quality tool platform set to launch in October.
Could you share with us some more about the air quality project you're currently working on and how you have prioritised the customer?
In 2019 during the bushfires, there was an incredible demand from NSW customers for reliable air quality data. The current product is more than 10 years old and not mobile responsive or as visual as users currently expect.
Over the last 18 months we have been working through transforming the journey for customers who seek this data primarily in an emergency. An example might be a parent whose child has asthma and wants to know if it's safe to take their child to the park with increased smoke from bushfires.
They want to feel confident they are getting accurate, timely, location specific data.
How does this air quality project look for NSW customers?
The new product is a bottom-up build which is device responsive, has searchable air stations to locate the one closest to you, and very clear definitions of air quality ratings. Customers can access simplified data to get the information they need to go about their day, scientists can drill down to the complex and historical data sets.
We know that this will help people who are pregnant, have an underlying health concern or are recovering from COVID. It's something NSW Government can provide that makes life a little bit less anxious for people right now.
How has the Digital System benefited the project?
We have been able to speed up delivery and save costs. We didn't want to spend time and money when there is already research and brand equity into how customers want to engage with NSW Government websites. It will be a seamless experience for customers regardless of if they enter the site from google, nsw.gov.au or environment.nsw.gov.au.
It looks and feels like we're one government, and that experience creates trust for the user. The common elements of the Design System means users are not having to learn how to use the website and they can focus on the content.
We worked with a couple of external partners for the custom data and mapping elements not currently in the toolkit.
When will the product go live?
It will go live, mid October 2021. The plan is to have it live in time for bushfire season.
If you would like to be involved in the beta testing, you can do this by emailing DPIE CS Digital Experience and Solutions Mailbox.
Was there a collaboration between other agencies?
Yes absolutely! This has been a collaborative effort between DPIE and NSW Health. It works across both air quality data from DPIE and health recommendations from NSW Health.
We've worked very closely with the business owner, Climate and Atmospheric Science in being able to run sprints, releasing a feature every two weeks. This means that we have always got a group designing, a group building and a group testing. By working in that agile way, we're not getting to the end and then finding we've got a product that doesn't meet the user needs.
What kind of change have you implemented in the last 12 months?
With so many different agencies within DPIE, our focus has been on designing a common Software Delivery Lifecycle Process (SDLC). To codify our services and make the experience of working with our team a repeatable process regardless of which team member is assigned to the project.
My team are modelled on a digital agency, with four core pillars - Solutions and Innovation, User experience (UX), Production, Platforms and Development. You come in the front door, we talk about the idea. We're most concerned about what is the problem we're trying to solve, rather than the technology that we might use, that comes later.
How many people are in your team?
The DPIE Digital Information Office has about 400 people, in Digital Experience and Solutions we have a core of 30 and use agencies and a contingent workforce to scale up for specific projects.
Would you say that you're changing the ways of working across DPIE and by working with you, you're transforming the broader business?
We really do try to champion the NSW customer. Sometimes there are internal requests like 'there has to be a blue widget on the website', our role is to get people to step back and go 'OK as an external user who doesn't know about the internal structures of government, what would make the most sense?'
We do a lot of work aligning with the Government Made Easy principle, Ask Me Once to make sure that we're not creating a bigger footprint.
What are you most proud of?
I'm most proud of how DPIE and specifically the Digital Information Office, responded to COVID19. We had to get about 13,000 staff working from home almost overnight. My team with our internal communications colleagues enabled Workplace by Facebook for all employees to feel connected when not in the office or face-to-face with their teams.
We also delivered forms that enabled employees to submit working from another location plans, borrow equipment for their home office and change their core working hours. Most recently we rebuilt the workflow for critical employees to be able to apply and be issued an Essential Worker Authorisation Certificate online.
What are you most looking forward to next year?
My team also look after DPIEs employee channels (Workplace by Facebook, Sharepoint, PowerApps and the intranets). DPIE is currently working on a program called the Employee Experience Digital Channels (EXDC) to bring more than 20 legacy assets into a single trusted communication source for employees.
Right now, at DPIE if you can't find something online you rely on organic and physical networks to source that information and support. If we build a great employee experience, people will be able to self-serve and they'll be able to do it in the hours that work for them.
Our ambition is to create a product which makes it easy for DPIE employees to do their best work for the communities, economies and environments of NSW.
It's been great talking with you Nerida. Is there anything else you wanted to cover?
Lastly, I just wanted to say that DPIE haven't gone it alone, we have been utilising the tools and resources that are available. We've worked closely with Service NSW, the broader DCS team and specifically the One CX program. We focus where we can add value and we utilise the Whole of Government organisation where it makes sense.
It is also timely to talk about development plans, the Digital Pathways Career tool which the Public Service Commission has developed is fantastic. You can use it to prepare for your next job whether you're a manager or a graduate.
There's some great resources and great opportunities to do jobs that you might not have considered before.