A major part of the plan to bring Birmingham City Council’s refuse collection into the 21st century by providing an improved, customer-focused service goes before Cabinet on January 19.
New ‘slab in the cab’ computers will be fitted into refuse collection vehicles – bringing to an end the unreliable processes currently used by crews, which include employees having to carry around paper maps for their round routes.
And by fully integrating with the council’s back-office IT systems, the slabs will address a major service concern cited by many citizens, the desire for immediate answers to their queries relating to matters such as missed collections.
The report to Cabinet outlines how the new IT will enable improvements to customer service in a wide range of ways including the reliable identification of those households that should receive an assisted collection and also recording when bins were not presented for their collection.
It will also help crews note issues affecting collections (such as road closures) and helping them to report other issues seen on rounds such as graffiti and potholes, meaning residents will be better informed about any issues if they report them to the council.
As part of the IT plan being put before Cabinet â€“ costing Â£3.5million over five years â€“ handheld devices will also be provided to managers and the cityâ€™s waste prevention team to enable them to carry out inspection checks on levels of cleanliness, ensuring Birmingham has cleaner streets. The funding for the proposals is made up of money from the money won from the DCLG Weekly Collection Support Scheme in 2012 and efficiency savings – therefore meaning this is being done at no extra cost to the council tax payer.
Elsewhere in the country, the modernisation of the refuse collection service through better IT has been dramatic. At Harrow Council, the introduction of mobile technology saw complaints resolved at the first point of customer contact increase from 20 per cent to 85 per cent. Follow-up calls from residents/customers in Harrow and Blackpool were cut by 49 per cent.
Cllr Lisa Trickett, Cabinet Member for a Green, Smart and Sustainable City, said: â€œThe introduction of wheelie bins as our primary method of waste collection was just the start of the long-overdue modernisation of this service.
“But it is just part of our overall commitment to the service. The jigsaw can only be complete if we support the service with modern IT. The case for its introduction was made as part of our successful bid to the Government for funding for weekly waste collections.
“As a Cabinet Member, and a local councillor, I know how important it is to get refuse collection right. It is one of the few services universally used across the city â€“ citizens have a right to expect clean streets.
“Itâ€™s easy to roll out statistics about the success of services but every missed collection for an individual family is a total failure for that household.”
If approved by Cabinet, it is anticipated the new IT would become operational during spring 2015.