NSG Exemplar Award Winner – Best streetworks application 2008: London Borough of Camden.
In Camden there are currently about 14,000 holes dug in the road each year; utility companies such as BT and Thames Water are responsible for the majority of these with the balance carried out by the London Borough of Camden.
The Traffic Management Act (TMA) (2004) mandates that companies planning road works must inform the council of their nature and duration. This is done electronically through the Electronic Transfer of Notices (EToN) process. The type of work can vary considerably ranging from road re-surfacing, footway improvements, traffic calming schemes, to the replacement of a gas main. The engineering service within the London Borough of Camden receives EToN notices directly into its highways management system. All work is then coordinated by engineering services to ensure minimum disruption to the public.
A service that was once inundated with telephone calls from the public wishing to complain, ask questions or report problems, is now benefiting from a new world-class web facility that makes all this information available to the public. This has been developed in house and extended to include information from other systems such as temporary road closures plus applications for skip, crane and scaffold licences, in fact anything, which might affect the roads of the borough. Members of the public simply search by street, postcode or ward, enter the date, past, present or future and get a breakdown of all activity in their locality.
The application also includes online fault reporting so that residents can report any kind of highway problem, from a pothole, to a broken streetlight. The process breaks the reported problem down by type, and dependent on the answers filters to the relevant team. Currently the council receives approximately 10 online faults every day. The reports are imported directly into the highways management system. When work is authorised, the system generates a works order that is sent electronically to a contactor. Some contractors are able to react immediately by, for example, re-directing a team with tarmac on board to a reported pothole very often within 24 hours of the original report. Camden transformed the service it delivers to customers thanks to its website provision, improved ‘avoidable contact’ and significantly improved its back office efficiency.
The National Street Gazetteer (NSG) is the enabling technology behind this groundbreaking application. Over the past few years Camden has made concerted efforts to improve its NSG, which is now an integral part of its Highways Management System. Via the NSG hub it provides those authorised to work on Camden’s streets with a reliable, up to date dataset with which to reference and locate its work. The NSG is being further enhanced through the implementation of an asset management plan. This records the locations of over 330,000 highway assets such as street lamp columns, street furniture, signs, footways, road surface types and even road markings. These are all stored within the highways management system but currently only available for internal use. It is planned, however, to make this information available via the website to aid in the reporting process in due course.
The system at Camden enables its 200,000 residents to report highway problems online as well as providing a comprehensive, web-based register of all street works taking place. This has dramatically reduced the calls coming into the engineering service and delivers on the government objective to enable all transactions involving members of the public to be carried out online. The street works application has enabled Camden to comply with the provisions of the TMA, significantly improve service to its customers, boost back office efficiency and reduce congestion on Camden’s roads. Use of the system has already been extended to parking to enable that department to place works orders with its contractors. Camden has been proactive in sharing its information with other boroughs, to share best practice and help them to plan their street and road works.
Camden has also introduced a system of e-alerts to enable any one interested to register to receive an email about street works in their area.
- Use of the council’s website has significantly reduced the number of calls coming in from the public.
- Residents can now report highway problems online and also have access to the council’s street works register.
- Improved workflow enables an engineer to authorise work and generate a works order that is sent electronically to a contractor.
- All transactions involving the public can be done electronically.
- Email alert service enables a resident to be warned of street works happening in or near their property.
- Online fault reporting has led to 90% of correspondence being dealt with within ten days.
- Utility companies are now fully aware of other work going on in the borough, enabling them to plan and reduce disruption.
- The system has reduced congestion from road works.