Microsoft Azure is Helping To Clean Up London’s Streets

Recently I posted about how the UK government were very slow in their adoption of Cloud Computing and as a result were missing out on potentially significant financial savings as well as more efficient ways of operating. This morning when I opened my newspaper there was an article headlining how Cloud Computing has helped transform a local Councils rubbish collection. The article caught my attention !

Lewisham Council in the UK, under severe financial pressure required an innovative solution to manage the local clean up of waste and graffiti at a reduced cost. Their solution is a Web site where anybody who spots a problem, members of the public included, are urged to upload a photo to a Web site. The council’s environment department then deals with the problem and provides an update with new photos showing the cleaned up site. The solution provided has resulted in the time taken to process a complaint being cut by 87% and the associated office case work cut by 21%. The spend on cleaning is at the level of 2002/3. The added benefit is that the system actually makes money now as it is used to promote cleaning and collection contracts to third parties.

At this point, the solution sounds like a neat use of standard Web technology and not related to the cloud. The key is what happened as a result of this projects success. Many other Councils in the UK have expressed interest in this approach. The fact the the software is written as a cloud based service running on Microsoft Azure, means that other Councils can use the software with no modification as it will scale in compute power and storage according to demand on a pay per use basis. So one core application can serve all the Councils in the UK. The advantages of this are significant as the application can be rolled out immediately, cost is directly proportional to use and each Council does not need to re-invent the wheel, whether with new infrastructure or software implementation. The total computing administration costs are minimal and centralised also. London Mayor Boris Johnson has today launched a London scheme based on the software to help clean up London.

This is an example of innovative use of Cloud Computing technology, in what has started with a simple solution driven by financial pressures, providing a country wide solution that is actually generating revenue. Interestingly, it did not come from any Government top down initiative but rather was driven in a bottom up manner. Key to enabling this has been the pay-per use Cloud Computing technology. Congratulations to the team at Lewisham council – they have demonstrated that with creative thinking and use of new technology, highly efficient, effective revenue generating systems can be developed. Hopefully there will be more stories like this emerging over the next few months, enabled by Cloud Computing. If you would like to know how Cloud Computing can help your organisation why not consider attending Learning Tree’s Cloud Computing course.


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