Winter is a difficult season for local authorities, who need to deliver services in an efficient manner despite extreme weather conditions and limited resources. However, leveraging technology can make all the difference when it comes to providing seamless service delivery during winter months.

In this blog post, we will discuss five key ways local authorities have used technology to ensure that services are delivered efficiently even in the harshest of winter conditions.

  1. Kirkland Washington – Automation

Utilising automation is one of the best ways for local authorities to streamline their workflow processes, reducing both time and resource usage for maximum efficiency. Automation will also enable local authorities to respond quickly during any winter crisis-situation and free up limited resource for more challenging tasks.

A great example of this is in the City of Kirkland, Washington. In 2019, a snowstorm caused significant disruption and chaos for their local infrastructure, resulting in road closures and power outages that left many citizens stranded or unable to access essential services. The city quickly implemented a smart automation process for managing snow-clearing activities which allowed them to respond quickly until the storm subsided. This included deploying GPS systems on their snow ploughs, allowing them to track progress in real time and make sure roads were cleared as soon as possible. They also organised automated weather alerts that helped them better prepare any new snowfall before it arrived and avoid any further disruption.

2. Minneapolis, Minnesota – Online platforms

Moving onto online platforms like ERP systems, GIS systems and web portals provides a perfect foundation for efficient service delivery regardless of winter weather conditions. By having these platforms available, local authorities can provide much more reliable services during winter months compared to traditional methods which can be unreliable due to changing weather patterns.

A great example of this is in the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Minneapolis has implemented an online platform called ‘Snow Plow Tracker’ which allows citizens to track snow ploughs during winter months and monitor progress on clearing roads and public walkways. This platform features a live map which provides real-time information, making it easy for citizens to plan their journey around any potential delays or disruptions caused by extreme weather conditions. By using this online platform, Minneapolis has been able to reduce response times for service delivery whilst also increasing citizen engagement too. Citizens are kept informed on progress with road clearing throughout the winter season, making it easier for them to access essential services like hospitals or grocery stores without interruption.

3. Nordland County, Norway – Data Optimisation

Data optimisation is another essential element that needs consideration for local authorities to deliver services efficiently during winter periods. Data optimisation also allows local governments to leverage data analytic tools to better forecast, plan and allocate resources for winter service delivery.

A great example of this is in Norway’s Nordland County. They are using a data platform called IncaX, which helps them analyse weather data from various sources such as environmental stations or road sensors. This allows them to quickly identify potential disruptions in traffic flow or hazardous weather conditions and act accordingly.

By leveraging the power of big data and analytics, Nordland County can predict how much salt they need for icy roads or anticipate where there may be power outages due to stormy conditions – allowing them to pre-emptively deploy their resources and respond faster during times of crisis. This smart use of technology has enabled Nordland County to better utilise their resources when it comes to winter service delivery, ensuring their citizens remain safe during the colder months.

4. Helsinki, Finland – Cloud Computing

There’s a lot of confusion about cloud computing, but you should think of its benefits as not about being able to deliver something new, but in offering game-changing improvements in cashflow, cost, time to delivery and scalability. Cloud computing solutions typically fall into one of three camps. SaaS (Software as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) and IaaS (Infrastructure Aa a Service). And in the winter, these can help to provide the necessary infrastructure and scale during winter months when there is an increase in demand for weather-related service delivery.

A textbook example of this is in the City of Helsinki’s ‘Snow cloud’ project. Helsinki has implemented a solution based on Amazon Web Services (AWS) to detect and forecast snowfall events. This platform combines data from their forecasting model with live images captured by sensors to monitor road conditions and plan snow removal operations.

As mentioned above, the main benefits of Cloud Computing are flexibility, scalability and cost efficiency. The Snow Cloud system can be easily scaled up or down depending on need, allowing Helsinki to quickly deploy resources when required and respond quickly to snowfall events – all without being hindered by large upfront costs usually associated with such projects.

5. Toronto, Canada – Mobile Apps

Our final tech solution is the use of mobile apps. Developing mobile applications for users can give people access to services from any location at any time without having to worry about cold weather slowing them down or preventing them from accessing important services they need during winter months. These apps help improve efficiency overall as they allow individuals to seek out assistance or make inquiries faster compared with traditional methods like phone calls or letters, which may take longer due to postal delays caused by bad weather conditions, in addition to the extra resource they require from local authorities to service enquiries.

A great use of mobile apps is the City of Toronto’s ‘IceWatchTO’ app. This app enables users to report icy patches on the roads, allowing city officials to quickly respond and act in order to improve winter road conditions for all its citizens.

The ‘IceWatchTO’ app uses GPS tracking and satellite images to pinpoint the location of reported issues. It also sends notifications directly to concerned city officials and provides detailed information about any hazardous locations that need attention. This has enabled Toronto to identify more icy areas and simultaneously reduce the amount of time it takes to make sure roads are safe. It can now utilise the collective resource of their 2.8 million residents to identify issues rather than having to deploy a network of monitors, which would have been prohibitively expensive over it’s 5,200 kilometre road network.

These are just five examples of how Local Authorities have utilised the latest technology to deliver more with less money, and in some cases to deliver services that would have been impossible just five years ago.

We’d love to work with you to identify where you can deliver more with less for your residents or deliver solutions to problems that previously seemed insurmountable. Give us a call or send a message via our contact us page for an informal chat.

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