Left: the “choose a garden” screen within the City of London Garden Management app. Middle: the app’s “choose a task” screen. Right: the app’s “raise an issue” screen. (Photos courtesy of Valto IT Services)
Managing solution security
Throughout the entire app development process, security was a top priority for Valto and the City of London. Because the app was going to interact with the City of London’s secure infrastructure, it needed to be protected from bad actors and cyberthreats alike. Put simply, there were two layers of security that needed to be implemented: device-level and data-level.
To secure devices out in the field, Valto and the City of London use Microsoft Intune. This ensures that city-managed devices cannot be opened by unauthorized people and it enables the City of London to remotely wipe any lost devices.
From a data security
standpoint, Valto and the City of London added a retention label to their data that enables them to automatically purge data once it becomes obsolete. Additionally, all of the software used in this solution is secured by Microsoft 365, adding yet another world-class layer of threat defense.
Improving productivity in the field and visibility in the office
The City of London’s new processes and Power App have streamlined garden maintenance in a few key ways.
First, pen and paper are now a thing of the past. Previously, gardeners had to report an issue by physically writing it up and delivering it to a central office where it was transcribed into a digital format. This process was slow, prone to human error, and no longer possible given the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, field workers can report an issue instantly via the app, enabling administrators to swiftly allocate resources towards issue resolution. With this new app, issue reporting times have fallen from around seven days to within 24 hours.
Second, Valto’s solution has made audit completion easier. Garden overseers now have deep visibility into the status of every public garden in London and can easily track issues like overdue facility checks. For the first time, the City of London has business intelligence to guide garden upkeep and investment. Each garden now enjoys a 95 percent audit completion rate, up from 70 percent before the app.
Finally, this solution provides a single reliable method for reporting issues and tracking their resolution. Prior to its implementation, field workers would report an issue and forget about it – there was no way for them to track it once it was in the central office’s system. Now, people in the field can see exactly how the issue will be resolved, the progress that’s been made, and when it’s slated to be fixed.
Looking ahead – innovation never rests
With one successful project under their belt, Valto and the City of London are eager to continue innovating together. “We will work together to further enhance the app,” explains Hugh Valentine, Managing Director at Valto. “We’re looking into other opportunities to build new Power Apps too. We’ve worked with Microsoft a lot on these, so we plan on continuing to upskill in this space.”
When asked if he sees a broader appetite in the government sector for digital transformation, Valentine responded, “Absolutely, 100 percent. There are always questions around security when working with government data, but with Microsoft providing a trusted and secure platform, the opportunities for innovation are endless.”