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West Berkshire Council has further mobilised its Street Works Inspection team with Bluebird Pidion BM-170 touchscreen PDAs from Maxatec. The recently deployed mobile computers enable the Council inspectors to access its Mayrise ‘Street Works’ software directly on site in real time, boosting efficiency and productivity while eliminating paperwork.
The Council is already realising a benefit from the reduction in administration and double handling of information. Being able to enter data directly into the database remotely has successfully streamlined the whole inspection process allowing the Council staff to be more productive.
”The PDAs have made a big difference to our inspections. All the information we need to optimise our workload and procedures is on the devices and there is no paper to handle and complete out on site. Our inspectors simply record their findings on the device and it seamlessly updates our office software automatically. It is a big saving in effort and workload. We wouldn’t go back to using paper now that we have the mobile computers,” says Neil Ainsworth, Principal Engineer, Street Works, West Berkshire Council.
The Council ran an exhaustive assessment of available devices that would integrate and run the mobile inspection side of its software, eventually settling on the Pidion BM-170 for its overall performance, software screen compatibility, user-friendly format and features, and excellent power management.
The semi-rugged PDA has a familiar mobile phone style form factor, with a 3.5-inch touch screen, which makes it readily acceptable to user. Unlike lesser devices, however, it can withstand multiple drops of 1.5 m and it can operate in wide range of temperatures from -20 to +55 °C. It also features a crack resistant LCD screen to minimise breakages. The built-in 3-megapixel camera can be used to photograph site details and it has a powerful multitasking processor running Windows Mobile for ease of integration with Windows-based software.
Automating utility work inspections
Under the New Road & Street Works Act 1991 and Traffic Management Act 2004, the Council must check 30 per cent of all utility works across the District each year. Previously, the inspectors used paper reports generated by the Mayrise Street Works system. The reports were printed and given to the inspectors who would take them to the site, completing their findings during and after the inspection and then return to the office. The information was then keyed into the system, which was time consuming and not a real-time method for handling important data. In addition, to carrying the reports, the inspectors would also have to carry maps.
With the PDAs, inspectors can access and enter information into the Council’s Mayrise Street Works system remotely. Everything they need to perform and complete the inspections is available on the user-friendly Pidion BM-170. The software walks the inspectors through the process, checking for condition of trenches, together with recording any issues to signing, lighting and guarding affected by the works. The PDAs also give instant access to street-level maps and any other information they may need on site. The system also enables the Council to prepare for the new EtoN 6 (electronic transfer of notices) requirements coming soon.