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The right tools for the job

Exemplar Award Winner- Runner Up NLPG NSG Exemplar Award ‘Technology Award’ 2010: Isle of Anglesey County Council

The New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (NRSWA), the Transport Act 2000 and the Traffic Management Act 2004 (TMA), supported by additional regulations and codes of practice, provide a legislative framework for street works, works for road purposes and major highway works.

Local highways authorities may carry out a series of inspections to ensure that statutory undertakers working on the highway fulfil their duties to cooperate with authorities and other undertakers in the interests of safety, to minimise disruption to road users and to protect the street structure and the integrity of any apparatus in the street.

In order to improve productivity of their street works inspectors, the Isle of Anglesey County Council armed the team with personal digital assistant (PDA) computers. The devices were loaded with the Local Street Gazetteer (LSG), exported layers from the council’s Ordnance Survey MasterMap, specially developed mobile street works software, and an integrated mapping module to display the geographically referenced data.

Outcomes

Prior to the introduction of the mobile devices, the preparation required for inspections was time consuming, resource intensive and generated large volumes of paper based reports. On average, each inspector would spend three hours a day preparing maps and report sheets for scheduled inspections and entering results from both scheduled and ad-hoc inspections into the centralised street works software.

The introduction of the PDA devices has virtually eliminated this administrative process. The devices are connected to the centralised street works management software at the start of each shift, and the daily schedule of planned inspections is automatically loaded onto the unit, together with any updates to the gazetteer or mapping. Inspection locations can be identified through the combined use of the geographically referenced data and results are recorded against a unique LSG defined position.

On completion of the schedule, the inspection results are automatically reloaded onto the central server, linked to existing data and records by the LSG location, for the generation of additional inspections, internal works orders or external correspondence.

This re-engineered workflow based around the use of existing yet technologically advanced hardware, software and data has resulted in significant benefits for both the Highways Department and the council as a whole. Observations recorded in the field are referenced to the LSG, which is used in the centralised street works management software and other areas of the council. As a result, it is more accurate and easily integrated; the processes of preparing for, undertaking and reporting from inspections are streamlined; and inspectors can, therefore, spend more time in the field inspecting the highway.

Key benefits

  • Reduced administration, resulting in a saving of an estimated 1,560 staff hours per annum
  • Efficiency gains demonstrated by an increase from 30% to 100% of Category C* inspections, resulting in fewer defects requiring repair by the council
  • Improved working practices enabled by technology, allowing for flexible working, job sharing and cover for leave and sickness
  • Demonstration of best practice and a working example of the benefits of using the gazetteer with projects to integrate the data being initiated by Social Services and Land Charges

View from the authority

“This project demonstrates that, with the right tools for the job, it is possible to achieve significant improvements in efficiency, working practices and, in the long term, cost savings. The combination of the LSG, OS mapping and street works software loaded on the PDA devices are the right tools.”

-Dewi Williams, Head Of Service, Highways & Waste Management, Isle of Anglesey County Council.

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