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  • David A.F. Sweet

New Software Saves Time, Money for City During Snow Removals

By David A. F. Sweet In Lake Forest, the need for snow removal in the winter is as assured as the sound of the noon siren. Which makes the City’s embrace of Cartegraph all the more important. Implemented this past summer, Cartegraph creates instant, detailed reports that will allow Public Works Snow Command Supervisors to make data-driven decisions during snowstorms this winter. For example, data may reveal that a particular route is taking longer and using more salt when compared to a similarly sized route. A Snow Command Supervisor would be able to look more closely at this information to determine where the issue lies and then make corrections.

James Lockefeer (left) and Cameron Burrell have been pleased that their departments have worked together to improve snow removal in Lake Forest.

Before Cartegraph was installed, significant administrative staff time was required to compile and summarize the snow-removal data in numerous Excel reports. Staff painstakingly tried to capture all labor costs with every City employee who responded as well as all materials used, such as salt and/or liquids. Cartegraph now does that work – freeing up administrators’ time to focus on other projects – while also recording details such as snow accumulation, duration, miles plowed and the like. In other words, Cartegraph displays the true cost of a snow event in real time. Overall, the software is an example of the way the City champions technology to improve internal processes and, ultimately, to better serve residents.  “With a centralized location to capture all the data, it makes us more organized, and we can analyze data quickly,” said James Lockefeer, Assistant Director of Public Works. “All the back-end work now happens at a click of a button.” Lockefeer praised the role of the Department of Innovation and Technology in bringing Cartegraph to Public Works. “They helped us identify this system as a solution that would work well for us, led the lengthy implementation process, and have continued to support our Department in helping us train every employee using the system,” Lockefeer said. Cameron Burrell, IT Business Analyst in the Department of Innovation and Technology, initially was unsure of how Public Works employees would react to a new system. “One of our biggest worries a few years ago was: What would the user buy-in be?” he noted.  “Once we introduced it, it couldn’t have been any smoother. The employees also had great suggestions that we’ve implemented. Other departments in the City are now asking us about Cartegraph.” During the snowfall on Nov. 26, Public Works tested Cartegraph for the first time. Lockefeer said Snow Command Supervisors could easily see the 15 tasks that were completed and how much each route cost.

 

A full snow callout – basically all hands on deck – involves 35 employees that cover more than 20 routes, which includes major roads, parking lots and workers shoveling at train stations and city buildings.


“Even if you’re shoveling by hand, you’re filling out your tasks in Cartegraph.” Lockefeer said. “We want to know how many bags of salt you’re using. It’s all pretty customized.”


In the years ahead, the City plans to continue to find ways to innovate and streamline operations to better serve residents like it has done with Cartegraph.




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