Leeds extends deadline for digital pen project

Leeds City Council has overshot its August deadline for implementing a major digital pen and paper (DP&P) programme.

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Leeds City Council has overshot its August deadline for implementing a major digital pen and paper (DP&P) programme.

The deadline has been extended to December after the project hit difficulties, and the council decided to add barcode reading facilities to the system.

When it is completed, Leeds City Council estimates the £366,000 ­Destiny DP&P system will save it £1.2m over two-and-a-half years.

Leeds won the 2005 Local Government IT Excellence Award for its Social Services Home Care pilot project based around DP&P technology. The system automates note taking processes for home care workers.

In the pilot programme, 100 social services staff were issued with digital pens. Leeds City Council now plans to roll out the system to 700 care workers by October, and 1,500 by December.

Users take handwritten notes on Anoto digital paper which are then sent to the council systems via a secure mobile phone link. The notes are converted into text and sent to the social services department’s central IT system, enabling it to hold the most up-to-date information on a Siebel-based case management system.

Doug Sutherland, head of innovation at Leeds City Council, said his team learned many lessons from the first phase of the roll-out.

“One of the challenges we identified early on was that there were occasional problems with character recognition. We discovered another low-tech challenge when pen users occasionally picked up each other’s pens, resulting in problems sending data. We resolved this one with the use of coloured sticky tape,” he said.

Leeds City Council will shortly introduce DP&P for the East Riding of Yorkshire Fisheries Protection Team. “We will then see officers boarding vessels to check catches armed with digital pen and paper,” said Sutherland.


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