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Promoting self service

Exemplar Award Winner- Runner Up NLPG NSG Exemplar Award ‘Green Award’ 2010: Ashfield District Council

In order to achieve a reduction in costs and emissions, Ashfield District Council implemented a revised refuse collection programme with new routes. The changes to the service impacted on approximately 30,000 properties, all of which required communication about the change to the day or week their waste would be collected.

Having identified the revised routes, they were mapped and new collection calendars produced. The first line of communication was an initial mail shot to affected residents but the council recognised that this information would also need to be made available across different access channels. The development and communication of these channels was also viewed as an opportunity to publicise the range of additional information available to citizens on the council’s website.

Outcomes

Ashfield District Council had already developed an online property finder: ‘Streetlevel.’ Underpinned by the National Land and Property Gazetteer (NLPG), this tool allowed visitors to the council’s website to search by street and then identify a property. Once a property is selected, information contained within the NLPG is displayed and a spatial query, using the geographical location of the chosen address, allows for the display of data from a variety of map layers. Having mapped the revised refuse collection routes and matched them to the NLPG, the integration of this data to the online service was relatively straightforward.

The original communication to affected households encouraged citizens with questions, queries or complaints about the revised service to visit the council’s website if possible, rather than calling customer services. The statistics provided during the month following the ‘Big Bin Change’ showed a tenfold increase in Streetlevel queries. Customer service records also indicated that citizens were finding the information they needed using the self-access service, and these results were replicated during the two week period over Christmas when seasonal changes to the service were implemented. Engaging with customers online and providing a mechanism for feedback has also generated a quick and easy way to communicate address change intelligence, further improving the accuracy and currency of the gazetteer.

The customer facing the online property finder is also replicated on Ashfield Council’s Intranet, providing Customer Service operators with accurate property records and up to the minute service information.

The introduction of new collection routes fulfilled the council’s aim, resulting in reduced costs and a reduced environmental impact through lower emissions. The development and promotion of the council’s online property look-up service also achieved tangible gains in efficiency and reduced costs, with customers self-accessing live service information rather than contacting the council by telephone or face-to-face at council offices. Recycling was promoted through the inclusion of information on waste collection calendars, allowing residents to check which materials could be placed in their recycling bin if they had misplaced the printed calendar. This has helped reduce residual household waste sent to landfill and increase the percentage of household waste sent for recycling.

The design of the web based system makes it easily reproducible, thereby offering a cost effective solution for disseminating information from other areas of the authority. Streetlevel applications have now been extended into a broad range of service delivery areas with solutions for Planning Applications, ‘find my Councillor’, local partners and agents and neighbourhood charters.

Key benefits

  • A more efficient refuse collection service resulting in reduced costs and reduced emissions inline with Ashfield District Council’s corporate objectives
  • An effective communication strategy to inform citizens of new routes and changes to the collection schedule
  • Development of an online property look up service providing self-service access to up to date service information
  • Promotion of alternative channels of communication resulting in reduced costs, gains in efficiency and improved service for citizens with minimal environmental impact
  • Provision of easy to access information online promoting recycling and reducing waste sent to landfill

View from the authority

“This project was about more than a change in bin day. The successful development and communication of alternative access channels resulted in tangible gains for the council, improvements in services for citizens and a reduced impact on the environment.” Matthew Longman, GIS & Land Charges Manager, Ashfield District Council

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