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An end to the paper trail

Exemplar Award Winner- Runner-up National Gazetteers Technology Award 2011: Northumberland County Council

When Northumberland County Council became a single tier authority, it set out to consolidate its 1500 paper based Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) into a single and maintainable database, underpinned by and accessible via the LSG.

TROs place legal restrictions on roads and streets. They include one way streets, no entry, single and double yellow lines, and provision for parking bays, taxi ranks and suchlike. With a paper system it is very difficult to manage the audit trail. One TRO may be part rescinded by another and then reinstated by yet another, making it difficult to know which restrictions are in play at any point in time. Northumberland decided to review all its existing TROs and to consolidate all those still in force. The LSG was used both to facilitate the process of validation and to store the most up to date TRO information.

The paper records were scanned and then transferred into the council’s document management system to ensure a proper audit trail. A new database was then created to hold the information from every existing TRO, with each one referenced against the LSG. This enabled each TRO to be reviewed which, in turn, led to a list of all live TROs. To verify these, the council carried out an extensive survey programme record existing lines and signs. Once this information had been collected, it was put into a ‘Geo Database’, designed specifically to hold all the TRO information and enable it to be validated and maintained. This also included standard forms referenced to the LSG in order to create new TROs when required. The underlying database can be used to produce reports and consultation documents that hold all the necessary legal information pertaining to each TRO.

Once the information is complete and validated in the geo database, it has all the attributes required to go straight into the LSG, including the USRN and the street start and end points. Populating the LSG’s Associated Street Data (ASD) is achieved via a single button click.

Outcomes

The TROs held in the Geo database are made available to the public via web mapping, enabling anyone to zoom into a particular point on a map and click on the relevant road or street to view details of the TRO. This is particularly useful at the legal consultation stage when the details are published for comment prior to adoption.

All council departments using the LSG now benefit from this rich source of TRO data. If re-surfacing work is required, for example where double-yellow line restrictions are in place, the council will know that the line work needs to be reinstated once the resurfacing is complete. This data is available to utility companies and other statutory undertakers who use the LSG. This, in turn, may lead to emergency TROs that lift restrictions for a limited period of time while work proceeds.

The new arrangements also improve the TRO process. Changes to roads resulting from new housing development, such as a new roundabout or a new road junction, will change the LSG and any existing traffic restrictions. This will trigger revocation of any existing TROs and lead to new ones which reflect the new road start and end points.

Northumberland has devised an end-to-end process that safely archives the original TROs, providing a valuable historical record, and then links them to the LSG, the modern street referencing system, prior to validation. Once validated, live TROs are recorded in a map based system dynamically linked to the LSG, used both by the county’s own systems and all those licensed to carry out work on Northumberland’s roads. This system also provides access to TROs for consultation and public consumption via the council’s own web mapping system.

Key benefits

• eliminated the manual process involved in extracting ‘live’ TRO information from paperwork

• all TRO information is available for public us and scrutiny via a map based website. All legal documentation is also available online

• all those carrying out work on the roads now have direct access to ‘live’ TRO information via the NSG • will assist the council, utilities and other statutory undertakers in planning their work on the highway

• ensures that parking restriction lines are re-instated after re-surfacing has taken place

• data are available to enforcement officers on their PDAs to ensure they remain fully appraised of TROs when inspecting the highway.

View from the authority

“It was essential, due to the rural nature of Northumberland, to provide a system which could manage booking arrangements for customers and the allocation of work based upon recognised and consistent addressing information. The LLPG has enabled the Council to make financial efficiencies coupled with service improvements at a time when the need for such is paramount.”

-Phil Soderquest Public Safety Unit Manager, Northumberland County Council

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