Refuse collection and iPads

I had never heard of an apparent proposal from Bury Council to buy an iPad for every refuse collection lorry until I was contacted by a local journalist in the middle of the Bank Holiday weekend. I have nothing against the use of new technology but it does seem rather incongruous that the efficienct collection of refuse should depend on the use of an iPad.

The first question that has to be asked is ‘What is the problem that needs to be solved?’

If the problem is the learning of new routes the most economical, simplest and most sensible idea would be to give drivers a map with the new route marked on.

If the problem is how to record which households have not put out their recycling surely a simple clipboard, a few sheets of paper and a pen/pencil would do the same job just as quickly and easily.

There would be no danger of the battery running out. Much less training required. Much less risk of expensive equipment being stolen. Much less chance of delicate equipment being damaged. Much less cost.

Of course this debates overlooks the more fundamental question of what value the information would be to the Council. There are any number of genuine reasons what a household may not be putting a particular recycling bin out for collection. For example: the householder may be away on holiday/ they may not actually be producing any waste because of their purchasing habits/ they may work away most of the week/ they may take their recycling to recycling centres themselves/ they may make use of their waste themselves – personal recycling…….. there would no doubt be many more perfectly genuine reasons.

Furthermore I am no technology expert but I know enough to know that there are many other tablet style computers that could do the job more cheaply.

Published by David Nuttall

Business and Political Consultant

7 thoughts on “Refuse collection and iPads

  1. Last comment, council employee or iPad sales person perhaps? With David Nuttall on this. Government and technology always equals massive waste of money but this is a joke, as are any extra bins. What do Viridor do for their money apart from sell our pre-sorted waste into the commodities market? Money for old rope. Lets build prisons next to refuse dumps and give prisoners a job to sort it and a waste technicians certificate if they do it competently so they have something to go on their CV rather than sit in their cells and smoke dope all day.

    1. Neither as it happens – don’t even own an iPad. Government and technology always equals a massive waste of money is like saying all MP’s fiddle their expenses, which isn’t true. It tends to be the bad apples hitting the headlines, hence why we find out about them. Can’t say I know much about how Viridor do for their money, but the point I was trying to make is why write any off scheme, IT based or not, until you know the facts? I can understand why you support David’s post, because you’ve done exactly the same.

      I also reckon it would cost the taxpayer less to build a refuse dump next to a prison than the other way round!

    2. What really annoys me, is that people are being thrown out of work, because there is no money to employ them and the next breath the council are thinking up stupid ideas like this one. Instead of a poor Bin Man, it is a pity the person who thought up the scheme cannot be made redundant, then just maybe we might be saving even more money. Then again its not the stupid managers who think up these crazy schemes that lose their jobs, it is the hard working people on the ground who are haunted by crazy ideas to ‘make a job easier’, that really make the job much harder. This is what is wrong with all public services, why cant management within these organisations actually speak to the people doing the job so that they understand what is really needed. Management doesn’t always know best.

  2. Have you asked to see a business case; a benefits analysis; return on investment? Could this be a better use of resource or employee development opportunities? How does this fit with the Council’s IT strategy? You might be surprised if you asked a few questions.

    Your suggestion of using “pen and paper” is ridiculous. It will cost far more due to a back office function being required should the Council do anything with the information. Furthermore, this would inhibit the Council’s ability to analyse the data and to use it alongside other customer data the Council collects (sources are vast).

    I’m not saying I endorse this scheme because I’ve not seen the business case, but your post looks very under-researched and lacks of substance.

    In short, a cheap shot.

    1. A typical politicians response. I think it unlikely that there is a good case for it, but as you say , there might be and to have a full understanding it is necessary to know what case there is.

      Unfortunately that’s not the way politics works in this country.

  3. The reason the council can think up such crazy ideas, is the fact no one stops them. They waste so much money, but stupid schemes, that could be better spent on the people of the town. However, it isn’t their own money that they are wasting, it is us poor council tax payers who have to fund these stupid ideas. Its the same old story a bored pen pusher somewhere who wants to justify his/her job, by thinking up crazy ideas. It has taken the council at least 5yrs and 3 different attempts to find the solution to waste paper and cardboard collections. Meanwhile the poor council tax payer has had to chase stupid green bags, that have blown down the street. Then we have had the black boxes that have all been distributed, total waste of money, and they are now left with the council tax payers to get rid off. At last we have a Green bin, surely by the time they wasted time with all these distribution schemes, they could of done the full system in one delivery and sorted out the time table of collection. Then again, this council and the government couldn’t find their way out of paper bag without directions, and then it would get lost in the corner. No wonder this country is on its knees, we have idiots in charge.

    1. While I am not in Bury I was sickened to hear of this ‘idea’, who on earth suggested this and who on earth sanctioned it?

      Money has been cut left right and centre to deal with service provisions all over the country yet Bury Council feels a tablet costing twice the price of many other tablets, with higher repair rates, higher internet charges and less stand alone capability is a great solution to the problem.
      Then factor in that developers for the iOS (Apples operating system for this device) must make a cut and so must Apple you really do find an expensive solution to a ridiculous problem.

      Like Leicester who decided Councillors would benefit from the iPrat this decision is ludicrous and typically inexperienced members of the council are being swayed by technology they have very little knowledge of.
      Many months back when I personally contacted Leicester Council they reported that they had consulted with their own technology experts (but still asked my advice); my question is who on earth are these people and why on earth are they offering consultancy services to our council?!

      I would love this blog to publish the report completed on this decision and on the open source technology that of course the council undertook, I mean who would decide to purchase THE MOST EXPENSIVE AND STRINGENTLY CONTROLLED tablet without doing a thorough investigation of all prospects and costs.

      If there was no report, then I would appreciate being told so; Bury Councils behaviour is just farcical.

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