Mobile IT systems drive big savings for Caerphilly road maintenance

Smart projects: Council speeds up repairs with GPS and data links to Tablet PCs

Caerphilly County Borough Council has used mobile technology to increase the proportion of repairs to roads and paths that it completes within central government targets from 70% to 95%.

The improvements have reduced the chances of members of the public having an accident, leading to a £500,000 fall in the money the Welsh council pays out each year in claims to people injured by potholes and loose paving slabs. In addition, more efficient working practices are saving the council an estimated £120,000 a year.

"The system enables approximately 375 repairs each month that previously exceeded the target completion date to be completed well within target. This has reduced the average number of days it takes to repair defects from 28 to 18, resulting in a £500,000 reduction in claim costs," the council said.

The IT department used systems integrator APD Communications to adapt the council's highways management system to run on Tablet PCs, which are used to direct repair staff to the most urgent jobs.

Project managers, who used the Prince 2 methodology, defined the project's requirements through conversations with senior managers and the people fixing the roads.

The council equipped vehicles with Global Positioning System devices to guide the people doing the repairs to each new job. The council's contact centre also uses the system to ensure that repairs are tackled in the most efficient order.

Council chief engineer Mark Rees-Williams said, "We are already seeing a return on our investment and expect payback within 12 months. The field teams effectively have access to a whole array of applications that were previously only available from a central office-based location.

"Based on savings of 31 hours a day over 10 teams, the council estimates that mobile working will save it £120,000 a year."

Every month, the council finds about 1,500 new problems with the local roads and paths. By automating the practice of sending people to carry out repairs, the council has complied with the auditing requirements of the Traffic Management Act 2004.

Highways maintenance at Caerphilly

Challenges of setting up mobile access to applications

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