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Better streetworks control

NSG Exemplar Award Runner-up – Best streetworks application 2008: Conwy County Borough Council.

Software is written to help people to do things but sometimes it is too prescriptive and does not ‘fit’ with processes and workflows. Often the result is more administration and paperwork. Two years ago Conwy County Borough Council made a decision to switch away from using seven separate databases used to facilitate daily street works tasks, to a single database, developed in house, to match its exact requirements.

This is now used for licensing everything from skips and hoardings, digging up the road, through to temporary traffic controls and processing temporary traffic regulations. The new database is used by Conwy’s Street Works department and by highway maintenance inspectors.

At the heart of this new database is linkage with Conwy’s street gazetteer. The NSG provides the system with standardised road names and street references, one address and location details for all tasks as opposed to seven. The purpose of the new system is to:

  • Reduce duplication of effort.
  • Reduce paperwork.
  • Improve monitoring of applications and notifications.
  • Build in checks on applicants and contractors.
  • Improve coordination of activities on the highway.
  • Improve invoicing and debt control.
  • Introduce more electronic communication.

Conwy receives requests from statutory undertakers such as utility companies and other third parties to carry out work on its roads. These requests come in by post, via fax and by email. Most requests will require additional documentation including the license to authorise the activity. This is all handled by the new system which additionally produces a street works bulletin for posting on the council’s website. This is also emailed to the emergency services to keep them informed of everything that is happening on the roads.

The system also includes up to date information on individual contractors. This contains details of things like public liability insurance. If the system does not have up to date details of insurance it will not process the license request. This ensures that only fully compliant contractors get necessary permissions and licenses. The system also produces the information to enable the finance department to produce invoices and produces a report for revenues raised.

Outcomes

The Street Works database system used by Conwy has been very successful. It was developed entirely in house and is in daily use producing the documentation required to deal with all street works activity. By rationalising seven databases down to one and using the NSG as the authoritative source of street information, considerable time has been saved in terms of data entry and dealing with data duplication. Financial processes have been improved too and it is now simple to tie up invoicing and credit control with licenses.

The system also enables electronic communications and publishes regular street works bulletins to the public via the Conwy website and to the emergency services by email. Use of the NSG also simplified queries and enables the use of bilingual road names, thanks to the UPRN. Complete integration with the street works coordination system is now planned.

Key benefits

  • Uses the NSG as a single source of street data, locational accuracy and ASD intelligence.
  • Enhanced profile of the NSG and expanded it to include local rights of way.
  • Reduced seven databases to one, eliminating data duplication and providing additional functionality not covered by third party software.
  • Reduced time taken in data entry by one man day per week.
  • Efficient correlation between licenses and invoices has improved financial processes.
  • Encouraged more electronic communications including email and automated faxing.
  • Better call handling due to standardised search facilities.
  • Improved management reporting for tracking issues.
  • Street works activity now published on the Council’s website.
  • Example of best practice drawing attention from neighbouring authorities.
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