Can technology help a growing black hole?
It wasn’t surprising to read an article in the Independent newspaper earlier this month which reported that the £6 Billion Pothole Repair fund that had been set aside for local Government departments, might not be enough. This is an enormous amount of money, and with the news that the bill for the backlog for some councils is reaching more than £100m it seems that the pothole epidemic is set to cost even more. We were privileged enough recently to consult with a council on this very issue and it turns out that work scheduling software could be key to managing this epidemic.
During consulting with a Government department (a countywide council) on how they could improve mobile worker efficiency, we started looking into how pothole repair was managed across the county. One of the problems is that many councils still utilise paper based processes to carry out work. Large amounts of time are wasted due to poor communication between those assessing the potholes, and those fixing them. A team typically completes a paper based form outlining the rough dimensions and location of a pothole. When the repair team turn up they may discover that they need a traffic management crew to close the road, or that they don’t have the right materials — or simply that the hole is too big and the road needs resurfacing.
What’s apparent is that the cost of the repair work is potentially only a small proportion of the overall cost. It’s a bug that bites twice: once because the team couldn’t perform the fix, and twice because they have to do another visit — time that could have been spent elsewhere. A works planning system for the mobile teams could eradicate these problems. There are cloud based Apps that give managers the ability to send jobs to smartphones and mobile devices. This would give the ability for the teams that assess potholes to take photos, videos and give accurate GPS information on the location of potholes. Teams that were sent to fix potholes could review this information before even leaving their depots, making sure they were properly equipped to fix the problem.
We discussed with the council some next level ideas to help their transport departments become even more effective. Plotting pothole jobs on maps can allow efficient routes to be developed that maximise mobile team productivity. Stock and Inventory can even be tracked and allocated to individual jobs which allows the council to accurately report on the true cost of fixing a pothole or repairing a road — a vital KPI that councils are keen to measure.
If more councils embrace work scheduling software, we can bring about a cost saving and spend some of that money on other beneficial public services — while enjoying a comfortable ride home
Part 3 of our Data Driven Work Management series
Part 2 from our series of posts extracted from our “Data Driven Work Management” Whitepaper.