Big data rubbish and grass cutting analytics save Harrow Council £4m

Rubbish bags on the pavement

Harrow Council has saved over £4m using big data and mapping information to streamline waste collection and grounds maintenance.

Matt Pennells, senior GI officer at the council, explained during an interview with V3 that the savings were down to investments in data analytics technologies that could then be overlaid on mapping tools it uses.

“As a local authority we have responsibility for a number of things. A lot of them end up being outdoors – parks, bins those sort of things. This means a lot of the data we collect has a geographic element. Using things like Esri‘s Arc GIS platform helps us manage that data and make it usable,” he said.

“It lets us do things like work out how much grass we’ve got to cut. We also leverage it for basic business practices and intelligence to improve efficiencies, like the best way to collect people’s bins and making sure there’s no overlap between our collection lorries.”

ArcGIS is a geographic information system designed to let users create and use maps by compiling and analysing geographic data and mapping information.

Pennells said that the projects are ongoing, but even by conservative estimates have already save the council millions.

“There are various projects that are ongoing on at the moment, but we managed to save around £3m through waste optimisation, and our streets and ground project, through time efficiencies, also saved us about £1m,” he said.

Pennells said the council plans to use smart devices to further improve operations efficiency.

“We’re coming to the end of a project to make our staff more mobile and able to work from anywhere. Initially that’s being done via smartphone devices with the environmental staff, the people doing street cleaning et cetera,” he said.

“We’re making it so they’re able to access work content on their phone, see where their next job is, log information, like if they spot a pot hole that needs fixing. It’s a lot smarter way of working and stops them having to come into the office to log it on paper.”

He added that, while it is too early to tell how much money the smartphone project has saved the council, he expects it to be “significant”.

Harrow Council is one of many working to use technology solutions to improve efficiency. The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham announced plans to improve efficiency by migrating its workforce from Windows machines to Chromebooks and Chromeboxes in April.

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11 June 2014 | 11:01 am – Source: v3.co.uk
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