LoveCleanStreets is an award winning online tool—developed by the London Borough of Lewisham—that gives citizens power to improve their environment. Microsoft Partner bbits originally developed LoveCleanStreets as an on-premises application for
Lewisham Council but has now moved to the cloud using Windows Azure. The application provides residents with real-time information on the council’s response time to environmental service requests. Since Lewisham Council introduced LoveCleanStreets, complaints
have fallen, while clean-up rates have improved. Lewisham’s success attracted nationwide publicity, leading bbits to upgrade the original solution to work in the cloud. The solution increases savings and revenue by approximately £150,000 annually. It was offered
to all London boroughs in the first quarter of 2011.
The London Borough of Lewisham is one of the highest performing councils in the country according to the Audit Commission in the United Kingdom (U.K.). Since 1998, its run an initiative called ”LoveLewisham,” aimed at encouraging citizens to help improve
A vital aspect of the scheme is LoveCleanStreets, a web and application service that encourages citizens to highlight the good things about Lewisham, and to report environmental crime. This includes areas affected by graffiti or litter, abandoned cars, and
damage to public amenities. Users submit reports, pictures, and texts from free iPhone, Windows Mobile, Android, and BlackBerry applications. They can also upload a text or picture message on the LoveCleanStreets web site. They see and search for reports on
the council’s clean-up efforts in their area and share them through social networking sites.
Microsoft Partner bbits worked alongside the council to develop LoveCleanStreets for the Lewisham Council web site, and it quickly became a major success in the borough—with graffiti complaints falling by 30 per cent in just two years. Administrative costs
were also reduced, and waste collection was managed more efficiently, generating savings for the council.
News of Lewisham’s success attracted widespread media attention in 2010 after the U.K. Government requested that all local councils reduce costs by up to 25 per cent through better use of assets and resourcing. Nigel Tyrell, Head of Environment Services
at Lewisham, who developed the original concept for LoveCleanStreets, realised the technology would be a valuable resource for all London boroughs. He says: “We had a vision for taking our project to the rest of London, but didn’t have the capacity. For example,
Lewisham handles 300-400 clean-up jobs each week through the web site. This would be multiplied by 32 if the service was extended to all London boroughs.”
bbits developed the original solution with the Microsoft .NET Framework, Bing Maps for Enterprise, and Microsoft Silverlight browser plug-in. To extend it to citizens of 32 boroughs, bbits re-developed LoveCleanStreets into LoveCleanLondon—a scalable, cost-effective,
cloud-based service running on the Windows Azure platform.
Ian Blackburn, Chief Executive Officer at bbits, says: “We chose to develop the application on Windows Azure so that residents in all London boroughs can access it from a phone, handheld device, or computer. The site easily accommodates sudden increases
in traffic—for example, following publicity drives—without losing performance.”
bbits spent just four weeks migrating the solution from its traditional hosting environment to Windows Azure. Blackburn explains that much of this time was learning about the different hosting environment. “Once we understood how Windows Azure worked, it
became clear that the migration process was simple. The actual redeployment took very little time.”
Blackburn says: “We charge an annual subscription fee of £7,500 to use LoveCleanStreets, and any customisation is charged as a separate cost. This makes it a lot more cost-effective for councils than using traditional hosting services. It also comes with
the Microsoft service level agreement of a minimum 99.9 per cent uptime.”
Residents can download LoveCleanLondon apps for free, or visit the site to upload photographs of rubbish or graffiti in their area, and to view the council’s progress in resolving problems. They can search for and share reports on Twitter, Facebook and other
social networking sites, or subscribe to updates through RSS feeds.
bbits used Windows Azure Connect to link Lewisham’s Microsoft Dynamics CRM database to LoveCleanLondon. The integration provides Lewisham with an additional way to manage its service to citizens by capturing individuals’ specific concerns and the council’s
response. The cloud-based version of LoveCleanLondon went live in March 2011 and was launched by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
Lewisham gained an excellent return on investment when LoveCleanLondon was deployed via the cloud on Windows Azure. Tyrell says that while it has increased revenues and savings by managing waste collection more effectively, the council has also reduced its
spend on hosting services. Since LoveCleanLondon went live, the numbers of reported environmental crimes in the Lewisham borough have fallen significantly. Other statutory bodies are also using the service, including the Metropolitan Police in Lewisham, and
the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. Johnson says: “Love Clean London gives people an easy way to report a discarded mattress or an outbreak of graffiti, helping their boroughs to direct finite resources where they are most needed.”
Cost-Effective Cloud Service Reduces Running Costs
When LoveCleanLondon was deployed as a cloud-based service on Windows Azure, Lewisham Council immediately made savings on hosting costs. For a predictable annual fee, all London councils access the service, and because the solution is replicated in the cloud,
they don’t pay for solution re-development or further provisioning costs. The application’s scalability meant that Lewisham’s goal of extending its value to other councils and local governments is realised.
Johnson says: “In tough financial times, this smart use of technology can deliver genuine savings while encouraging people to take an active pride in their local environment. I am urging more boroughs to get behind it and more Londoners to spruce up the
capital in the run up to 2012 and beyond.”
bbits is now working with local councils in Jamaica and Ireland to implement local versions of LoveCleanStreets. It’s also used by the London Metropolitan Police in Lewisham, to support their understanding and awareness of environmental crime, and by the
London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, to report community fire safety issues in the borough
Application is Easily Scaled to Accommodate High User Volumes
When Johnson launched LoveCleanLondon in March 2011, the application experienced a sharp increase in the number of users but performance was seamless. Page views for LoveCleanLondon have increased by 10-15 per cent each month. Blackburn says:
||”Previously, we’d have to provision new servers to deal with an increase in users, but with Windows Azure, capacity is increased to deal with peaks in traffic, and is decreased as user numbers fall.”
Chief Executive Officer, bbits
“Previously, we’d have to provision new servers to deal with more users, but with Windows Azure, capacity is scaled up to deal with peaks in traffic, and is decreased as user numbers fall.” This means that Lewisham doesn’t pay for servers it doesn’t use, but
the application runs reliably regardless of user volumes.
Council Revenue Increased by £20,000
Tyrell says that LoveCleanStreets is helping the council save money by decreasing the cost of processing environmental reports, and helping it to deploy resources more cost-effectively. For example, it costs the council just £1.10 to process a report made
on LoveCleanStreets compared to £5.10 for a complaint made by phone.
Commercial rubbish sites are also monitored to ensure that taxpayers are not paying for waste removal for businesses. For example, contractors can post reports to LoveCleanStreets about companies that continually leave waste out that is above their contracted
amount for removal. The council then has the evidence to renegotiate contracts in line with the actual cost of removal. Tyrell says:
“By monitoring waste more efficiently, Lewisham Council generated an extra £20,000 of income in 2010. In 2011, our aim is to generate a further £100,000.” Tyrell says the savings and income generated will be used to offset some of the budget cuts required
by central government.
Clean-Up Time for Service Requests Improved by 87 Per Cent
Between 300 and 400 rubbish removal jobs are undertaken by the council each week. The advantage of photographic evidence is that workers can assess the urgency of the complaint and either deploy resources immediately, or notify a contracted rubbish removal
supplier to attend to it during a routine collection. Tyrell says: “Graffiti is now removed in less than one day after the complaint has been registered, and 70 per cent of rubbish that’s dumped illegally is removed within one day. The overall clean-up rate
has improved by 87 per cent.”
Casework Complaints Cut by 21 Per Cent
Complaints about environmental crimes sometimes took much longer to resolve than the performance targets set by the council. This was because complaints were put into a complex casework system and incurred delays as they were processed. Tyrell says: “This
often led to irritated residents and a loss of reputation by the council.” Since introducing LoveCleanStreets, councillors have been encouraged to use the system to report issues, leading to a reduction in the amount of time spent dealing with casework. “With
online reporting, the amount of graffiti in the borough fell by 73 per cent between 2006 and 2010. Clean-up times were cut dramatically and resident satisfaction with our street cleaning services increased,” says Tyrell.
Scalable Tool Supports Nationwide Collaboration on Environmental Crime
||“By monitoring waste more efficiently, Lewisham Council generated an extra £20,000 of income in 2010. In 2011, our aim is to generate a further £100,000.”
Head of Environment Services
Council officers are also seeing the potential for improving service delivery by using LoveLewisham and LoveCleanStreets to conduct surveys with other local authorities on how well they’re meeting the government’s National Indicators for Local Authorities
for combating environmental crimes. Tyrell says: “This is particularly valuable when collaborating with a neighbouring borough on our common boundaries.”
In March 2010, Lewisham Council won the Environmental Innovation Award at the U.K. Government Business Awards for its work in developing LoveLewisham and LoveCleanStreets. The LoveLewisham project first received national recognition with a New Statesman
New Media Award, winning the Modernising Government category in 2006, for use of mobile technology to address fly tipping and graffiti. LoveLewisham is also referenced in a government paper—Putting the Frontline First: smarter government.
Windows Azure Platform
The Windows Azure platform provides an excellent foundation for expanding online product and service offerings. The main components include:
Windows Azure. Windows Azure is the development, service hosting, and service management environment for the Windows Azure platform. It provides developers with on-demand compute, storage, and bandwidth, and a content distribution network
to host, scale, and manage web applications through Microsoft data centers.
To learn more about the Windows Azure platform, visit:
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