• 19th October 2017 at 12:00PM
  • Written by Steve White, Software Business Development Manager at Yotta
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Waste issues have been high up on the national news agenda this year, with the three-month Birmingham refuse worker strike and ongoing controversy over the regularity of some collections hitting the headlines. However, concerns with waste collection go beyond the purely local, and specific kinds of collections.

A recent poll carried out by Yotta revealing more than a third (35%) of the UK public have complained to the council about an issue related to a waste or recycling collection, highlights a greater underlying issue.

Missed bins are an age-old problem that just doesn’t seem to go away, whether it’s residents putting the bin out after the collection lorry has passed or a collection crew simply missing it during their round that consists of hundreds of identical bins. However, the bin being missed is not the real issue, resolving most waste and recycling issues should be a quick fix, but with 21% of 1,000 UK residents polled in the survey revealing that their issue(s) on average took over one week to resolve and a further 8% claiming they were never resolved, a more efficient method of dealing with issues is clearly required.

While an unemptied bin might seem in some cases a trivial problem, to the resident affected it is an important concern that requires a quick resolution. Councils are focused on delivering this of course but today they are still too often hampered by the legacy systems and approaches they are using.

The age-old disconnected method of phone calls to call centres, information passing through to operational supervisors and eventually reaching collection teams, often with some degree of paper and written communication remains time consuming and prone to misunderstanding or errors.  It also presents difficulties in quickly assessing whether the service request is itself a valid one, or whether the resident is at fault.  Updating residents on the outcome; whether and when the service request is going to be completed or not, and when it has actually been completed also suffers in the age-old disconnected approach.

To complete their job effectively waste collection crews on their rounds need to be able to easily log issues and see the full picture of issues that have been passed to them, the location, all in real time.  Back office teams and systems in the council need to know about issues such as contamination or missed collections as soon as they occur if they are to stand any chance of addressing service requests at point of receipt or even before a resident attempts to report an issue.

The latest in-cab waste management technology can help ease these issues by providing waste collection crews, operational supervisors and call centre staff with an overarching view of any issues in real time, thereby enhancing communication and collaboration. The software enables administrative teams to map and manage routes for collection crews and log customer enquiries and service requests in real-time. As a result, a missed bin can be reported, logged and a re-collection route planned, all on the same day or a resident can be informed why their contaminated bin wasn’t collected.

Yotta’s recent research also indicated that while 54% of the public’s issues are being resolved by the end of the day after first being raised, only 24% of total issues are resolved on the same day. It’s likely that many of these issues are minor and, in theory at least, easily resolvable. At the moment, though, the speed of response to them is too often hampered by legacy back-office processes that can complicate and delay matters, which in turn creates more work for everyone involved, while reducing the standard of service.

Today’s software can radically change this situation, making council’s aware of waste collection issues in real-time and helping them to resolve problems quickly and efficiently. Its great news for councils – and for residents too, who not only have the satisfaction of having their immediate challenge resolved, but also get a much better impression of the council’s work generally and in particular, its whole approach to public engagement.