Building Safety Regulator
Designing a new regulator to make people safer in their homes
Everyone should feel safe in their home, including the millions of people who live in high-rise buildings. The UK Building Safety Regulator is charged with making this ambition a reality. We worked with the Regulator to put human-centred design at the heart of new digital services for regulation and take a new registration service for high-rise buildings from policy to launch within just three months.
Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, a fire which destroyed London’s Grenfell Tower in June 2017, the safety of high-rise homes is an urgent and emotive issue. The Building Safety Act, passed into law in 2022, aims to ensure that what happened at Grenfell is never repeated. The Act sets out how residential buildings should be designed, constructed, maintained, and made safe. The new regulatory regime is overseen by the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) hosted within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Britain’s esteemed national regulator for workplace health and safety.
Answering the big question: How to make regulation effective?
For the newly formed BSR, the immediate challenge was to launch its first digital service in a very short timeframe. The Building Safety Act requires anyone responsible for an existing high-rise residential building to register that building and, when we began working with BSR, registration was set to open in just three months’ time.
A wider principle sat above this urgent challenge. For any regulator, the first step towards an effective regime is industry compliance. So for BSR, the big question was what role new digital services could play in maximising compliance and – in doing so – maximise safety for high-rise residents? Angela Storey, Senior Responsible Owner for the Building Safety Regulatory Programme at BSR, explained: “Getting digital services design right would be key to realising our mission.”
Creating a vision for human-centred services
Our experts in regulatory capability development rose to the challenge. Our track record with regulators like Ofcom and the UK Space Agency shows that a human-centred approach to service design results in digital services that make compliance as easy as possible for anyone affected by regulation.
The first task was to make the case for a move away from a more conventional approach that depends primarily on penalties to drive compliance. Through a series of highly visual demonstrations, we established the transformative potential of human-centred design. HSE’s expert teams quickly embraced the approach, allowing us to cooperate as equal partners with shared ways of working.
Assembling the right mix of expertise
These sessions laid the foundations for strong collaboration and agile working as the programme moved from vision to realisation. Our specialists in user research, service design, business analysis, agile delivery management, technical architecture, and front- and back-end engineering formed a blended team with HSE’s regulatory policy, communications, and operational experts. “The team blended so well together, that it was very quickly difficult to know which team members were from PA and which were our own,” said Storey.
To hit the deadline for the new registration service, we launched an ambitious development programme. We tested different aspects of the new service with over 100 future users through several rapid cycles of iteration and improvement.
With our extensive experience of modernising regulators, coupled with our deep Microsoft relationship, it was clear that a Dynamics 365 and Azure solution was the path to success, especially given the looming deadline. Fortunately, we were able to call on our Dynamics 365 and Power Platform partners, Codec – Microsoft Ireland’s Country Partner of the Year for 2023 – to collaborate with us and HSE, working as one team to meet the deadline for the first services.
Establishing a new building safety regime to protect lives
Within just three months of the first line of code being written, the new registration service launched on schedule. Over 1,000 registrations were completed in the first month. Users reported that a process they feared might be complex and time-consuming was simple and fast.
Within the six-month window, some 15,000 registrations are expected. This will create a single register showing for the first time who is responsible for the safety of every existing high-rise residential block. Future services will enable the building approval process for all new residential blocks, as well as providing residents with a simple route to have complaints investigated. This is a vital step in turning new building safety law into action and improving the safety and confidence of people living in high-rise homes.