Councils turn to mobile working to fight cuts and improve services

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A number of local authorities are successfully responding to cuts in funding through implementing mobile working for their field-based staff.

Teams such as highways, planning, repairs and refuse collections are achieving significant time efficiencies while also reducing costs through effective app-based mobile access to key back-office systems.

According to public sector software specialist NDL, many mobile projects fail through lack of user take up because the processes don’t accurately reflect what they need to do; they also become frustrated by unreliable signal access.

However, it seems that authorities are now turning to relevant software toolkits to design and building practical mobile apps in-house in conjunction with users which accurately replicate the way they need to work. Crucially, they can be used whether in or out of signal.

This has led to successful mobile working implementations which critically have met with wide take-up and are driving real savings. They include:


Bolton Council

The Council embarked on a cross-authority mobile programme which has saved time, enabled resources to be more appropriately deployed, improved customer service, increased recycling take-up, and streamlined delivery processes and routes.

One project, for highway safety inspections, has saved more than £50,000 a year as well as eliminating a backlog of four weeks. Another, for waste bin deliveries and removals, has eliminated the use of paper and manual input for managing 5000 transactions a year. A Bolton council spokesperson said: “In the current economic climate, these mobile implementations are critical. They support savings and efficiency reviews, but at the same time limit their impact on service delivery and customers’ experience.”


Moray Council

This large rural area has patchy mobile signal yet has still introduced significant efficiencies to its housing repairs service by implementing mobile working. By enabling operatives to receive job details and input job completion details while in the field, travelling time has been cut and seven members of the team have been reallocated to other areas. It has also reduced missed and re-arranged appointments, in particular by updating stock levels remotely to ensure operatives have the right parts on their vans.

Andy Adam from Moray Council commented: “We’ve got a lot of connectivity black spots in our area, so automatic connectivity handling is very useful. Users will be able to just get on with their work without worrying about whether they have signal or not, which will result in better adoption of the app and fewer calls to the helpdesk.”

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