Visualising waste.

Written by Alex Mihai

Photo by Hamza Javaid on Unsplash

Missed bin reports are a real issue to all local authorities that have responsibility for them and, therefore, this impacts on our customers and puts a great deal of pressure on the service by creating rework and taking up staff time, distracting them from the planned work causing further pressure and failure. Not to mention the additional demand created by our customers contacting us through whatever channels it proves difficult to manage and the way we feedback to the customers means we are unable to understand the true picture. For customers, this is the most visible service and in their minds what they pay their council tax for.

Back in November we submitted a bid for some funding from the MHCLG and we were successful alongside our new friends from Leeds City Council. So what was it all about? We aimed to create a way that we could visualise data for missed collections and assisted collections, to understand what the causes were in order to inform targeted resources to address this issue by education, enforcement or resolving locality issues such as poor parking.

What have we done?

Prior to the round of MHCLG funding, we started our own project and since we work in an agile way, we have conducted a discovery with some really insightful user research. What came out of this was that data was a real issue. How come you might ask? The issue was that we were collecting lots of data but not necessarily the right data to understand where the problems were. Data was produced either on a monthly or adhoc basis and stored in many different places rather than one central area where people could go to find it. The data told us numbers of missed bins but not why the bins had been missed or if indeed they were genuinely missed at all.

So we were collecting all this amazing information, but it proved very difficult to understand what the root causes were. What we needed was a way to interpret the data and inform us why the bins were missed and where. So one of our amazing techy folk designed a great dashboard that interrogates the systems we use so that we could translate our statistics into intelligence.

Over the last few weeks we have taken part in the agile for teams training with our new friends from Leeds City Council (really exciting) and we will have had our first show and tell where we showed the prototype.

How does this help?

So how does our waste visualisation tool help you might ask. Well, not only do we have up to date information presented in a visual, easy to understand way, but we also have all the up to date information in one place so we don’t have to refer to monthly reports. This means we have enriched data collected and available for the service, with the ability to drill down to see failure for each round and each ward so that we can establish patterns over time. This supports the service with managing resources and allocation of work. Not to mention that this helps with complaints and responding accurately to freedom of information requests. So it’s a win — win situation.

What’s next?

We will be conducting some further user research and getting feedback from Leeds City Council on the prototype ensuring the iterated version meets the needs of multiple councils in the true spirit of the Local Digital Declaration.

Look for us on Pipeline for updates!