Cloud computing helps clean up London

06 October 2011 | Gordon McKenzie, Government Solutions Lead, Worldwide Public Sector

​Mayor Boris Johnson earlier this year urged Londoners to help spruce up the capital by reporting “grime crime” such as graffiti, litter, and fly-tipping using Internet and mobile phone technology. The innovative “Love Clean London” system enables users to track progress of cleanups whilst also delivering financial savings for boroughs.

Love Clean London

  • “Love Clean London” reporting tool for use on mobile phones and online
  • Cloud-based solution offers efficiency and savings for London boroughs, helping keep communities clean

‘Love Clean London’ works by allowing people to upload photographs onto an online map of environmental issues that require action by the local authority. The system – invented and pioneered by Lewisham council – gives people an easy way to help the boroughs keep their communities clean, receive prompt action when a report is sent, and help boroughs direct their resources to the areas that need them most.

Key features:

  • Using a free mobile phone application, users can submit reports, send a text, or visit the web portal.
  • A GPS signal enables participating boroughs to receive the report as an email to then take action..
  • An interactive map shows all the reports, updating on progress being made..
  • The website also shows environmental black spots and identifies places where cleanups have taken place either by councils or volunteers.

Lewisham council has been pioneering the use of this system for more than five years. During this time, the council has been able to hold street cleansing spending at 2003-04 levels whilst experiencing significant improvements in customer satisfaction, cleanup times and standards. In just two years since the system went live, complaints about graffiti fell by 30 percent and boroughs saw an 87 percent reduction in time spent processing issues reported through the system. In terms of cost savings, a report processed with the new system costs Lewisham £1.50 in comparison to a web-based report costing £4.10 and a report by phone costing £5.10.

Why clean up on a cloud? 

Cloud computing allows organizations to be freed from the burden of running their own IT infrastructure by having their software and data held on shared servers in cyberspace rather than on their own dedicated machines at fixed locations (i.e., in offices or at home). For the Love Clean London system, the Lewisham council chose to build it on Azure – cloud computing technology from Microsoft.

Today, Londoners can submit reports using a free Windows Phone 7 or other smartphone app which can be downloaded from the cloud. There, people can see and search for all the reports in their area and share them through social networking sites, review progress, or subscribe to updates. The website was developed by Microsoft-certified partner bbits, featuring an interactive map using the latest Microsoft Silverlight browser plug-in and Bing Maps for Enterprise to show reports in real time – all of which is hosted in the cloud. The system can be fully integrated into local authority systems using the Microsoft .NET Framework, ensuring that issues can be dealt with smoothly, and allowing developers to create their own applications to submit and retrieve reports.

Love Clean London

Pivot viewer showing matrix of environment reports. 

What really characterizes this project among a new generation of applications is that it originated with the citizen at the center, giving them direct access to a government system. While it may be a small step in the context of an Environment Reporting System, I believe it’s a great example of how cloud computing can help broaden the accessibility of any kind of application.


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Gordon McKenzie
Government Solutions Lead, Worldwide Public Sector

About the Author

Gordon McKenzie | Government Solutions Lead, Worldwide Public Sector

Gordon looks after government service delivery for Microsoft; in fact, he founded the Citizen Service Platform solution framework. He is a board advisor to several start-ups, and has been a strategic technology advisor to the Scottish government.