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Taking it to the streets

NSG Exemplar Award: Highly Commended – ‘Best Business Integration’ 2007: Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council.

In the past information locked away in a database often has a single use, but if there is one thing that the eGovernment initiatives have revealed it is that there is very often more than one use for data. As a result, application software has become more open enabling data to be shared across systems with tangible benefits, resulting in better business processes and cost savings. The evolution of Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council’s Street Lighting function is a good case in point.

Tameside MBC’s Street Lighting Unit has always realised the value of good information and has spent considerable time, effort and money in building up its database of lighting columns complete with location coordinates. Using this information the Street Lighting Unit could receive customer fault reports, specify items for repair and organise routine maintenance. This was all managed using a Highways Management system.

The Street Lighting contractor would receive electronically, one order per street created by this system, and then organise the work using another job costing and stores management system. Once necessary repairs had been carried out, the contractor would return the job tickets and complete them on the job costing system, creating an electronic interface file for the Street Lighting Unit for input back in to its system. The contractor would then make a claim for payment and subsequently get paid against a schedule of rates. As a result the work completed was recorded against the street, but not as a history against the lighting column.

The Street Lighting Unit’s Highways Management system is also the system used to manage Tameside’s Local Street Gazetteer, enabling all the lighting column data to be held as individual asset items associated to the street data with a full list of attributes for each lighting point. Over time a web based front end has been developed to enable citizens to report issues directly in to the system via the council’s website using the same screens and forms as the CRM in the call centre. Further developments delivered a map based view of street lighting inventory, which enabled the Street Lighting team to precisely locate every lighting column. This further streamlined the process and improved the accuracy of information sent to the contractors carrying out the repairs.

These improvements lead to the elimination of the contractor’s management system in this process. Now the Street Lighting support team receive fault reports and then identify the correct lighting column. They then raise multiple orders, which are downloaded on to mobile devices used by the field engineers carrying out the work. The mobile devices allow engineers to log the work carried out against a single lighting column so that when the devices are re-synchronised with the base system the inventory is automatically updated. Because there is now an historical record of all maintenance and repair against each individual column it is much easier for the Street Lighting team to manage the assets. This process also triggers the financial claim for work carried out against the standard schedule of rates.

Outcomes

Tameside MBC has made considerable gains by leveraging the quality of its street lighting asset data. One system now manages the Local Street Gazetteer and the whole street lighting repair and maintenance process while paperwork has been reduced through the use of mobile technology. Service delivery has been improved as a result of these efficiencies and costs have been reduced.

Key benefits

  • Street lighting repair and maintenance is now handled by a single system.
  • Paperwork to and from field engineers has been eliminated through the use of mobile technology.
  • Bulk maintenance activity can be planned more effectively.
  • Fault repairs are normally carried out within three days, a significant improvement.
  • Repair and maintenance activity automatically keeps the street lighting inventory up to date.
  • Further efficiencies will be possible when the web mapping interface is made available to the public, enabling them to identify and report faults with individual lighting columns themselves.
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