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Mobile GIS has halved the time required to complete property inspections, creating a more efficient process and improving satisfaction.

Improving business efficiency and customer service with mobile GIS

Use of a mobile GIS solution from Esri UK enables Homes in Havering to deliver more efficient and effective services for the residents of over 10,400 homes in East London. Employees use Esri’s ArcPad on tablets to halve the time required to complete property inspections, instigate maintenance tasks more quickly and improve the quality of business data.

The Customer

Homes in Havering (HiH) was formed in July 2006 as an arms-length management organisation (ALMO) working on behalf of the London Borough of Havering. It is responsible for managing 10,411 tenanted homes, 2,207 leasehold properties and 2,830 garage units in East London.

Mobile employees can undertake property inspections and other reports 50% more quickly than before

Residents benefit from faster resolution of maintenance issues, which improves their satisfaction and quality of life

ArcPad has created more efficient processes across the business and led to improvements in the quality and timeliness of business data

The Challenge

As a not-for-profit organisation, HiH aims to operate as cost efficiently as possible, reinvesting income to create homes and communities that residents can take pride in. At the time, staff carried out surveys of estates by filling in paperwork by hand, then typing them up when they got back to the office or sending them off to be manually transferred into an electronic format. “By the time that the information was available in our central systems, it was often out-of-date,” explains Roy Ojelade, Estates Services Manager at HiH. “Our processes were slow and disjointed.”

There were other challenges too. When staff went out on site, they sometimes found it hard to determine if pieces of land were the responsibility of HiH or other organisations. Consequently, it wasn’t uncommon for a lot of effort to go into dealing with issues that were not HiH’s responsibility. In addition, staff often found it hard to describe exactly where issues were on an estate. As a result, contractors and maintenance teams sometimes wasted time because they couldn’t find the locations mentioned in reports. All of these issues meant that residents didn’t always receive a prompt and effective service.

“ Tasks that used to take our mobile staff considerable time are now done more efficiently with any data collected being available to be disseminated among other departments within the organisation

Roy Ojelade – Estate Services Manager at Homes in Havering

The Solution

Soon after its foundation, HiH took the bold decision to extend and develop its mobile working strategy, believing this approach would improve operational efficiency, increase the visibility of staff on estates and provide a better service for residents.

Esri’s ArcPad mobile Geographic Information System (GIS) software was deployed on lightweight, portable computers to 35 employees including 12 neighbourhood wardens, 16 tenancy and neighbourhood officers, 3 senior estate managers and 4 caretakers. Through the use of ArcPad, these mobile employees can access detailed maps of each of HiH’s properties while on site and attach a precise location references to their electronic property report.

Mobile GIS is now firmly embedded into the organisation’s processes, if an area of grass has not been cut, mobile workers can see if it is the responsibility of HiH or another organisation. If a tree requires any work, they can direct the contractor straight to the exact tree at any location. Ojelade says: “We use ArcPad for just about everything, whether checking a tree for storm damage, conducting a routine estate inspection or reporting a pothole in a path.”

“ ArcPad helps to ensure that the data collected is geographically accurate and consistent, so it can be used for comparison and analysis. It eliminates the paper trail and improves the overall efficiency of our teams

Benefits

More efficient business processes
The use of ArcPad has helped HiH to develop a more efficient and standardised processes, generating better data across the business. “ArcPad helps to ensure that the data collected is geographically accurate and consistent, so it can be used for comparison and analysis,” says Pluck. “It eliminates the paper trail and improves the overall efficiency of our teams.”

Time savings of at least 50%
HiH estimates that its mobile solution has reduced the amount of time required for completing inspections and other reports by at least fifty per cent. Ojelade says: “Tasks that used to take our mobile staff considerable time are now done more efficiently with any data collected being available to be disseminated among other departments within the organisation.”

Greater information sharing with residents
Caretakers use ArcPad to record the precise location where bulk rubbish, such as old mattresses and broken furniture, is found. This information is then uploaded from the mobile devices to HiH’s central systems, where it is then compiled into monthly reports and published online. “The data collected allows us to re-charge residents for bulk rubbish with precise information about what has been dumped and where,” explains Ojelade. “ArcPad provides a fast and accurate way for us to collect this information.”

Improved maintenance of properties
Mobile teams can quickly report faults and issues which means these problems can be rectified more quickly too. Likewise, staff can identify where contractors are failing to meet standards and point out areas that need greater attention with more precision. The use of ArcPad has enabled HiH mobile working strategy, delivering a more streamlined process in the overall maintenance of HiH’s estates and to a corresponding improvement in resident satisfaction.

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