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Konect use grows from tree inspections to dog registration

Usually, new technology comes after months of research, planning and spending. But in the case of Sorell Council in southern Tasmania, and their GIS manager, Julie Mann, the arrival of Konect was the result of a serendipitous conversation with a tree contractor.

Usually, new technology comes after months of research, planning and spending. But in the case of Sorell Council in southern Tasmania, and their GIS manager, Julie Mann, the arrival of Konect was the result of a serendipitous conversation with a tree contractor.

More than 370,000 tourists are estimated to travel through Sorell each year, on their way to the east coast, Hobart and the World Heritage site of Port Arthur. It’s a large municipality, covering an area of 583 sq km, with a population of 16,000, and offering stunning countryside, low forested hills and coastlines. In an area where the population is largely in smaller pockets, Julie and her team are keen to improve efficiencies for the ratepayers.

“With such a large area, we needed a solution that ran lean, but provided the level of efficient service that was appropriate. We had already adopted a lot of technology, but we needed to work smarter.”

When Julie got talking to a contractor conducting a tree inspection, a very large penny dropped! “He was tracking and monitoring the condition of trees, and told me that a neighbouring Council were using Konect. When I saw what it could do, I thought this is really easy. It did what we needed it to, it was simple to create forms, and gave us the mobile solution we just didn’t have.”

In an area of such natural beauty, trees are a big deal. But finding them; identifying them on council land, reserves and parks, and recording their current health is a big ask for a pen and paper, and leg work!

Julie explained, “We needed to build an asset register, recording all the trees, with an emphasis on those that may need more frequent monitoring, because of age and safety. The ability to ‘keep an eye’ on them and provide regular follow up was invaluable. Konect allowed us to build that register. I’m not a coder, but this was really easy to use and very intuitive. What’s more, you can simply copy from other data sets, which is a huge advantage in time saving and productivity”.

But it’s not just trees where Konect has ploughed a path. Sorell Council are using it for dogs, waste management, storm water, roads, fire abatement and more.

All registered dogs are now listed via Konect, and details of ownership are immediately available on the inspector’s tablet or phone, and also back at the contact centre. Storm water management involves precise information on the location of culverts and driveway culverts, and Konect has played a major road in the modelling of storm water collection and flow.

In terms of Sorell’s capital program, Konect is ground breaking. “Konect allows us to do condition surveys on Council buildings and assets, by room, walls, substructure, electrics, super structure… the lot. We can now compartmentalise all parts of our assets. This condition data provides the input into modelling software that generates future asset candidates for Council’s 10-year capital works program across all major asset classes, which helps drive the big picture.

There is also a heavy reliance on Konect for their vital fire abatement program every summer. “Officers use it to locate the property owners required to take action, i.e., cut grass. A re-inspection program after Christmas checks on work not done, with data collected from Konect and map generated via our GIS, and forwarded to the contractor for action.”

The bulk of Konect’s work for Sorell is waste pickup. Unlike many other Council’s, Sorell offer a collection booking service for oversized waste. Konect is loaded with all the bookings, and the drivers use an iPad to plan their day’s work. “It’s the biggest automated thing Konect does for us. We had so many disputes with people claiming that the driver had not turned up. Often, people just missed the pick-up time, but with no means of proving that the driver had been to a location, our only option – and not the chosen one – would be contradicting the customer. With Konect, the driver has a 100% accurate record, takes a photo and can eliminate the, ‘he said, she said’ stuff.”

With dispute calls now almost at zero, the expense of having to go back out has been eliminated. “The drivers love it and don’t want to go back to paper base. Konect helps them use a more convenient route to travel, they can visualise the location, they have colour coding for pick-ups or aborted trips. They take a photo; it’s logged and it’s done. Plus, the customer service staff can log in on the desktop version, see exactly why it wasn’t done, and talk to the customer with immediate evidence of what went wrong.”

Of course, that fortuitous meeting between Julie and a tree contractor may just have delayed the arrival of Konect at Sorell. Other Tasmania Councils were already Konect converts. But Julie’s insight, and the potential scope of its application has taken Sorell Council’s efficiencies to a new level. “Konect has delivered so many cost and time savings across all levels. From the administration to the person on the front line, we have a system that’s easy to use across so many departments. It’s customisable, there’s no duplication, it’s brilliant for picking up a lot of data in one shot, and it’s easy to learn.”

To learn more about what Sorrell Council offers visit, www.sorell.tas.gov.au

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