Rushcliffe Council in Nottinghamshire has gone from having some of Britain's dirtiest streets to being one of the country's cleanest local authorities after equipping its street cleaners with mobile devices.
In late 2004, Rushcliffe was among the bottom quartile of authorities according to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's target for street cleaning.
But just one year later, the council was among the top quartile of authorities.
Speaking at the Society of IT Management's Business Transformation conference in Birmingham last week, the council's deputy chief executive, Josie McGuirk, said that the mobile devices gave street cleaners "dynamic access to the service requests that come in during the day".
She added, "Service requests come from the public through the web, through the telephone or from people coming into the civic centre."
The requests are entered into Rushcliffe's customer relationship management system. A team of co-ordinators at the council's headquarters allocate the service requests to different street cleaners.
The job lists are held on web applications that the street cleaners access through their mobile devices.
The street cleaners are then able to focus on the worst streets in the area rather than simply cleaning streets in a set pattern.
The system, which went live in April 2005, uses Orange-branded SPVM 5000 devices running the Microsoft Windows Mobile operating system, with street cleaners using GPRS to access the applications.
The deployment did hit minor snags to start with, however, because the original devices chosen proved to be unsuitable for the street cleaners.
"We are now on our fourth version of the PDA because the first three versions were too fiddly for the street cleaners," said McGuirk.
Another problem was network coverage, she said. "That has caused some frustration."
All of the street cleaners' conditions of employment were altered by the council's human resources department.