Before implementing Cityworks, the City of Loveland Solid Waste Division used a pen and paper system. All incoming requests were handwritten on individual slips of paper and organized by color so our staff personnel could, at a glance, recognize the type of request being submitted. Not only was the process slow and tedious, but it also posed many problems due to the original slip being the only record of the request our staff had. Crews often took these slips into the field and, at times, the slips were never seen again while others were returned in questionable condition. Penmanship of the individuals recording the requests varied greatly and sometimes mistakes were made due to handwriting miscommunications. With each error, man-hours to correct a problem compounded.
When requests were completed and returned to the office, they were filed away. When residents would call to check on the outcome of a request, we would thumb through stacks and stacks of slips to find this information. The resident would most often hold on the line during this process. Our residents suffered because of our inefficient processes.
The slow paperwork trail also posed a serious problem when billing for special services. With the Solid Waste Division providing residential dumpster service and special fee-based pickups, the delay directly impacted our ability to post charges to residential accounts. Frequently residents moved out of town and accounts were closed before staff received paperwork notifying them of the completed services.
Gathering information for month-end reports was also a challenge as we once again sorted and counted each slip. Month-end reports were limited at best and a big issue we faced was where to store all the boxes and boxes of paper. Filing and storing was time-consuming and took a lot of space; it was always a chore to keep the paperwork organized.
We knew we needed to improve our customer service, productivity, and documentation of all services performed. We recognized that improved efficiency would reduce our staffing, outside labor, and equipment costs, resulting in savings we would be able to pass on to our residents. Striving to be good stewards of City resources, the Solid Waste Division felt these improvements were needed to fulfill that goal.
To resolve our issues, we envisioned a user-friendly computer system where we could access all necessary data with the touch of a button. We wanted to measure our performance quickly and accurately, identify areas of improvement, and find a system that could accomplish all of these things while continuing to grow with us as our wants and needs changed. To date, with Cityworks, we have this and more.
Presently, with our Cityworks solution, our office staff immediately enters the resident’s information while on the phone with the caller. With the Cityworks popup feature, street names are instantly identified, allowing the crews to respond without delay. Inquiries about collection days, set-out locations, driver assignments, and past caller histories are also readily available so our staff members present themselves as knowledgeable, competent City employees. Their confidence levels have increased as most information is located on the screen in front of them. Residents are pleasantly pleased by response times.
The Solid Waste Division has cut back on the need to hire outside labor as productivity levels have increased. With the email feature, crews are dispatched more rapidly and are able to address the issue the first time. Results are documented in the program and supervisors are instantly aware of potential problems. Cityworks has, in many ways, allowed us to take a more proactive role, rather than a reactive one.
We produce numerous reports all based on data input in the system. Many times, with the help of the search feature, office staff are able to address concerns over the phone rather than send crews and equipment back into the field—another cost-saving measure.
Cityworks has proven to be an invaluable asset to the Solid Waste Division over the course of its first year. The division as a whole has become much more efficient. Our office receives over 40,000+ incoming calls on average per year and Cityworks has made responding to these calls manageable and orderly. The City of Loveland recently completed a citywide conversion of trash and recycling carts, increasing call volume exponentially. With more calls come more service requests. Coupled with ArcMap, Cityworks allows us to quickly and precisely identify our residents’ needs with a few keystrokes. We now have the ability to create a request and dispatch a crew immediately through the email feature and have documentation of the investigation in the system within the day. Charges for services are applied in a timely manner and have resulted in significant cost savings.
Retrieving information from the program is another feature we frequently utilize. Not only are we able to easily gather information for general monthly reports, but we have discovered ways to use the data to help us improve our staffing levels, training, and education; make accurate assessments of upcoming needs; and identify routes and locations of special-needs-residents who require extra attention. All of this information is available through the Cityworks search function. We export that data and can analyze and develop needed corrections many times before the concern becomes a problem.
We are currently in the process of establishing a web reporting option for City residents and hope to have that accomplished in the near future. For Loveland, Cityworks has become an invaluable tool that has improved our Solid Waste program exponentially and has delivered the results we needed.
By Shannon Smith, Senior GIS Specialist, City of Loveland, Colorado